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San Joaquin County to provide permanent housing for its homeless veterans through new project

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STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) -- In two years, San Joaquin County and the city of Stockton aim to make a 4.5-acre field in French Camp the first step in ending veterans homelessness by 2025.

San Joaquin County Housing Authority Executive Director Pete Ragsdale said the county recently donated the land for a project known as Victory Gardens.

“This is permanent, supportive housing. So, this is service delivery on-site,” he explained.

Renderings of the project show a 48-unit modular building that will offer permanent housing and on-site access to health and mental health care, and other services.

“Make all of those necessary steps to get them back into a productive frame of mind and health,” Ragsdale said.

The project is not expected to break ground until 2021 but veterans, like Greg Freeman, need help now.

“Bears every night. I had to buy three tents ‘cause they would slice them open and grab my food,” Freeman, a Marine Corps veteran, told FOX40.

Freeman said for seven years he lived in the forest until a run-in with the sheriff’s department forced him to face his demons.

“I wasn’t taking meds, I was homeless. I quit taking my meds,” he said.

Until Victory Gardens is built, Dignity’s Alcove provides one of the only facilities that caters to veterans.

“My thoughts is that this place, until then, this place could use more assistance,” said Army veteran Michael Votta.

Freeman said he’s looking forward to the many veterans who will find new homes at Victory Gardens. Soon, he’ll be on the move to an RV he’ll call his own.

“I crawled in the back door with my little bag of possessions and I’m going to stand tall and walk out the front door as a homeowner,” Freeman said.

Ragsdale said once they break ground, it should take about 18 months to complete the Victory Gardens project.

Victory Gardens will also be near the new VA hospital, which is expected to undergo construction soon.

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