RANCHO CORDOVA -- Dozens of local veterans who were struggling with housing and employment issues now have a roof over their heads, as a first-of-its-kind apartment complex for veterans opened its doors in Rancho Cordova.
It’s much easier for Carl Blount to smile these days. The former Navy vet, and single father of three has a home to call his own.
"For me being a single father worrying about my kids, it's a blessing,” said Blount. Since Blount left the military in the 90s, and started his family, he's had trouble acclimating to civilian life. Keeping a job, he says, was a challenge.
"I couldn't afford the rent. We ended up homeless,” said Blount.
That is until Blount got connected with the right veterans’ resource workers who led him to Mather Veterans Village in Rancho Cordova. From the outside it looks like a modern loft apartment, but this housing complex is exclusively for veterans.
A number of dignitaries spoke at its grand opening this week, including Congressman Ami Bera, Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli and Rancho Cordova Mayor David Sander.
"We've got their back. And that is more important than it may seem,” said Sander of homeless veterans.
The project was 10 years in the making –- a collaboration among developer Mercy Housing, the City of Rancho Cordova, and Sacramento area veteran resource centers.
The complex has 50 apartments, and on-site support services. Veterans like Jerry Bradbury pay a small, fixed percentage of their income to live here, making it affordable. The center also relies on donations for apartment accommodations.
"This was a perfect setting, this was a golden setting for me,” said Bradbury. With the help of his service dog, Twoface, Bradbury is recovering from substance abuse, an issue that’s hit many vets. Bradbury says the support he gets at Mather is unprecedented.
"What you're paying for is the friendship. We're all brothers and sisters here. I have people in there that would just go over hurdles to help me out. There's no way to not succeed here,” said Bradbury.
"When one vet is in crisis we help each other and that's the one thing I like is the fact that we still help each other,” said Blount. Blount's family is certainly happy to have a permanent place to call home.
Officials say it’s important to remember this is a good start, but it doesn’t solve the problem. At last count, about 12 percent of Sacramento's homeless population was made of up veterans.