By Heather Regula, Correspondent
The Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity held a ground-breaking ceremony for the Lee Crossley Veteran’s Community on Saturday, March 3. The organization plans to build 13 duplexes to house 26 homeless veterans in the now vacant lot located at Hope Street and 38th Street in Temple. Sonjanette Crossley, the widow of Lee Crossley, said the opening prayer and shared some information about her late husband.
“Lee passed away in 2014 after a battle with cancer. My husband said that he won the battle because he got to graduate to Heaven. He was a Vietnam veteran, and he was always thankful that he served when he did. My husband always believed that our life is our ministry – we get a chance to minister and help people every single day,” explained Crossley. “Veterans don’t need a handout – they need a hand up. Every veteran who walks on this ground will never be the same – they will be changed positively.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that there are over half a million homeless people nationwide. Approximately 40,000 of those homeless people are veterans. Exact figures are difficult to come by due to the transient nature of the homeless population. Understanding some other statistics helps to put these numbers in perspective – less than one percent of our population is in the active duty military, and approximately seven percent are veterans.
Pat Patterson, a veteran and the owner of PatCo Construction, is dedicated to improving the lives of other veterans.
“The Lee Crossley Veteran’s Community will be comprised of 13 buildings that will be divided into duplexes. We are planning to build a community center that will have washers, dryers, large tables for community meals, and just a common space for the residents to get together,” explained Patterson. “We will have a blitz build in June, and we will be working around the clock to get these homes built.”
This community is a combined effort between many companies and organizations.
“The way Temple and Belton have come together for this is incredible. The companies and volunteers are selflessly serving, and it’s incredible. I’m a retired soldier and working with the Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity is how I continue to serve. We bring people together, communities together, and we build hope,” stated Ken Cates, CEO. “This is just the first step in putting an end to veterans living on the street. Every veteran deserves a home. Every veteran also deserves a welcome home, and that’s what this is about. We have over 500 homeless veterans right here in Central Texas, and this will be the first community of its kind – and this wouldn’t be possible without the help of the many businesses that have come on board.”
Budget Blinds, of Belton, is one of the many local businesses that have stepped up to help out.
“I’ve been helping Habitat for Humanity for about three years now. We partner with Springs Window Fashions, and they help share some of the cost. I’m an Air Force veteran, so this cause and this organization are important to me – we are happy to be a part of the work they do. We donate old product to Habitat for Humanity, and when they have newly completed builds, we go in and install blinds in the homes,” said Mike Dunn, owner of Budget Blinds.
The Lee Crossley Veteran’s Community has the potential to change the lives of homeless veterans in our community. There is an ongoing need for more help – especially the need for more local builders to become involved in this project. Volunteers, builders, businesses, organizations, anyone willing to lend a hand can find more information on Facebook @forthoodarea.habitat or online at https://www.fhahfh.org/ . Contact can be made through Facebook, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (254)680-4007 during business hours.