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By Anne O’Connor

aoconnor@nashobavalleyvoice.com

BEDFORD — Imagine having no home — dealing with medical and emotional problems and all the while not having a safe and secure place to call your own.

The Veterans Administration wants to put an end to veteran homelessness. The agency is working to reach functional zero when it comes to veterans being forced to live on the streets. That means that any veteran who wants a permanent home will get one, said a social worker at the Bedford VA.

New housing for chronically homeless veterans is a logical match for the Edith Nourse Rogers Bedford Veterans Administration Medical Center. “Bedford is one of the national nodes for research,” said Cheryl Coviello, program manager for Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing at Bedford VA.

The leadership at the hospital campus, including Coviello, is fiercely protective of homeless veterans, the other social worker said. In 2006, four housing vouchers were available through the Bedford VA. Now, there are 447.

In the spring a collaboration between the VA and private industry will bring 69 apartments for chronically homeless veterans age 55 and older to the Bedford campus.

Peabody Properties is building Bedford Green, a LEED gold and energy star certified building, on a lot owned by the VA.

Under the Enhanced-Use Lease program, the VA matches available land and buildings for supportive housing with private development, financing and supportive services.

Bedford Green is intended for a specific population, chronically homeless veterans ages 55 and older. Preference will be given to females and veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom/ Operation Iraqi Freedom/ Operation New Dawn, the social worker said.

The one-bedroom apartments are meant for single veterans or a veteran and domestic partner, she said.

The VA began accepting applications at the end of November.

There are real people working at the VA hospital with a passion for helping veterans, the other social worker said. The guide available at the www.bedford.va.gov website has phone numbers that will go to a person. The guide is updated regularly.

Residents are required to have a treatment plan and case management, Coviello said. During the day, two social workers will be at the office in Bedford Green to work with residents.

The residents will have access to the facilities on the Bedford campus, like the pool and hospital, she said.

At night and on the weekend, a separate apartment will be staffed with a Peabody Properties employee. The builders will manage the building.

The housing is open to veterans from all communities.

To find out more about living at Bedford Green contact Pat Collins 781-687-2374.

Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.

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