New apartment building for veterans nearly full

Lyon’s Place II, which provides housing to homeless veterans, has filled all but five of its 55 apartments since opening in April.

Don Taylor, a former U.S. Army sergeant, who served in Vietnam and Desert Storm, was homeless before he came to Lyon’s Place II.

Taylor lost his Springfield home a few years ago and stayed with friends in Troy, he said. But it was difficult for him to get to his appointments at the VA hospital on Third Street. When Lyon’s Place II opened April 6, he applied for an apartment and got one. He says he is grateful for the people who worked for Lyon’s Place II.

“The people who are in charge of the church, the manager, the janitor, these people are wonderful,” Taylor said.

The three-story building was completed April 6 and began accepting applicants the same day, said Wes Young, vice president and chief real estate developer at St. Mary’s Development Corp., a Dayton nonprofit housing agency. St. Mary’s was the developer and is the general owner of the building, located on the Dayton VA Medical Center campus.

Lyon’s Place II has 49 one-bedroom units and six two-bedroom units, Young said. A single apartment has a kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom.

The complex cost $9.7 million to build and received funding from Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Ohio Finance Housing Agency, the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing, Neighborworks America, and the City of Dayton, Young said. The remainder of the funding came from St. Mary’s.

But funding was not the only issue facing development. Competing federal agency rules held up the process.

“HUD requires that you have the land before you get funding for the building, and the VA required you’d have the funding before you can get the land,” Congressman Mike Turner (R-Dayton) said while touring the facility Monday. “HUD also had a prohibition on a veteran’s preference for the facility but the VA required the veteran’s preference.”

Turner worked to resolve that issue and others by passing legislation in Congress.

Turner said he hopes more independent living residential complexes like Lyon’s Place II, close to VA hospitals, will be built.

Young said the capital for another project wasn’t yet available, but St. Mary’s was considering constructing another complex, based on need.

Glenn Costie, Medical Center Director for the VA Medical Center, said this kind of housing helped veterans receive the care they needed.

“We’re adding to the team of care,” Costie said. “Folks living in this facility, this is their home. But as they get older, and require more advanced care, they don’t even have to leave the campus. Across the street is our main bed center.”

The complex has had an impact for the veterans who now live there. Melvin Garland, a former private first class in the U.S. Marines who served during the Vietnam War, said he felt safer in this veteran’s home than where he previously lived at Joshua Manor on Third Street.

“I love everything,” he said. “I feel safe here. I expect to be here indefinitely.”

Taylor said the people who worked at the VA housing complex helped him feel safe.

“Their attitude is no more homeless veterans,” Taylor said of St. Mary’s. “They are helping me.”

Lyon’s Place II is named after John Lyons, a Navy cook ,who the founders of St. Mary’s met and befriended. Lyons was buried at the Dayton National Cemetery in 2000. Another similar VA center, Lyon’s Place, was previously completed at 1300 Genesis Way off Hoover Avenue.

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