Palm Bay Moose Riders – Homes for Warriors@Post 117
Space Coast Paratrooper’s Association
Have you ever noticed that patriotic truck driving around Palm Bay? You know the one with the silhouette soldiers, eagles, and Gov. Rick Scott’s signature below the “Homes for Warriors” lettering. Have you ever wondered what it’s all about, or how it started? Hopefully, this article will provide some history, insight, and a sense of added pride for the citizens of Palm Bay.
Several years ago, during the housing recession, the City of Palm Bay received Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). The amount awarded was approximately $5.1 million dollars, which was purposed to purchase foreclosed homes, refurbish them, and then subsidize them for resale to the general population. The city was not allowed to profit during these transactions; however, the city was able to recapture a portion of the original funding during the process, and eventually wound up with a total of $1.7 million dollars. Eventually, as the housing market improved, city leaders explored new approaches to growing the existing community redevelopment efforts. After thoughtful deliberation, Mayor Capote and the City Council voted to establish the Homes for Warriors program. Eventually, the city’s housing assistance plan would be rewritten to include the Homes for Warriors program, which allowed the use of additional funds from the State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) program.
The Homes for Warriors program works by combining the NSP and SHIP funds to provide mortgage free homes to disabled veterans and their families. Utilizing the two different funding sources, the home recipients are required to sign multiple agreements: the NSP contract, which requires fifteen year occupancy with no repayment, and a SHIP contract which is a grant with no repayment. Additional funding is received from national and local business grants, in-kind donations of materials and labor, as well as through the support of community volunteers.
As a city initiated program, Homes for Warriors sought a not for profit partner to join the initiative, enter Space Coast Paratroopers Association. The Homes for Warriors and Space Coast Paratroopers partnership allows for project donations to be tax deductible, and together, both organizations work to select and process the program applicants. Prescreening is done through the Space Coast Paratroopers, with a final screening conducted by city staff. Once approved, applicants are placed on a prioritized waiting list to receive a mortgage free home. When the actual work takes place on the homes, the city is responsible for the construction, while Space Coast Paratroopers acts as an outreach to the community for donations, support, and volunteers on volunteer days.
To date, Homes for Warriors has completed six projects, and one additional home is currently under construction. The Space Coast Paratroopers have donated 6 additional properties to the city for the programs continuation, and recently selected four local families to receive new mortgage free homes. For the first time in the programs short history, the newly selected home recipients will include two female veterans, acknowledging the increasingly difficult role our women veterans are fulfilling in our modern military.
To the best of our knowledge, this program is the only one of its kind to successfully bring together a local government, private business sector, and private citizens in a joint effort towards a common goal, without any personal gain. The program and its supporters have rallied together and have accomplished a true sense of community and unanimous support for veterans. The gifting of mortgage-free homes serves as a departure point for veterans, enabling them to rebuild their lives and once again become highly productive members of our community. Empowered by the freedom a mortgage-free and specially adapted home brings, our veteran families can now focus on their recovery and returning to their life’s work of serving others.
Space Coast Paratroopers Association is also very involved with many of the local Veteran’s Service Organizations, serving as an outreach coordinator at community events and gatherings, and connecting our local Veterans with the resources they need to succeed.
Throughout the past year, Space Coast Paratroopers Association has partnered with local education institutions, Eastern Florida State College Palm Bay campus, and Florida Institute of Technology, on a number of initiatives to support student veterans in their transition to academia and into the workforce.
If you would like more information on the Homes for Warriors program, our community and business partnerships, or our outreach efforts, please visit: www.spacecoastparatroopers.org or contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.