Homeless veterans in St. Louis will soon have a place to get back on their feet.
Officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking Friday on the first Veterans Community Project village in St. Louis. The nonprofit, which is the brainchild of former U.S. Senate candidate and Army veteran Jason Kander, builds tiny homes of no more than 360 square feet for veterans who have been living on the streets. The men and women are connected to services such as mental health treatment and job training, with the goal of moving them into their own place when they are ready.
The ceremony was the same day the St. Louis Board of Aldermen gave initial approval to legislation selling a city-owned vacant lot in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood in north city to the nonprofit. Fifty homes will be built on the site, which is in the 18th Ward, represented by Democrat Jesse Todd.
“As a person who was previously without a home, I understand how the veterans feel,” Todd said. “I never thought I would have the honor of being before such a distinguished body to present a bill for something that is dear to my heart. I know what homelessness is like, and this will be something that will be with me until eternity.”
In a show of unity, the board voted to make all members co-sponsors of Todd’s legislation. It needs one more vote next week before heading to the desk of Mayor Lyda Krewson, who is expected to sign it.
Roddy announces retirement
Also Friday, the longest-serving member of the Board of Alderman announced he will not seek re-election next year.
Democrat Joe Roddy has represented the 17th Ward, which covers parts of the Central West End and Forest Park Southeast neighborhoods, since 1988. His father was an alderman for that ward in the 1950s and '60s.
“I am incredibly grateful to the residents, businesses and institutions in the 17th Ward who have trusted me to represent them throughout these many years,” Roddy said in a statement. “The 17th ward is now the epicenter of the region’s construction industry and a place where people of all ages, races and genders want to live, work and play.”
While he is credited with revitalizing the neighborhoods south of the Barnes-Jewish medical complex, Roddy has faced criticism for his reliance on tax incentives for developers.
Filing for the election to fill Roddy’s seat begins Nov. 23.
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