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Volunteers turn out to start initial construction of Nine Line Foundation Veteran's Village

Savannah Morning News - 10/22/2018

Oct. 21--More than 80 volunteers spent their Saturday making a longtime dream a reality for homeless veterans as they kicked off the initial construction of the Nine Line Foundation Veteran's Village.

"The goal of this initiative is to turn the lives of these veterans around, both immediately and for the long term," said Nine Line Foundation Founder Tyler Merritt. "This initiative goes beyond providing a roof over the heads of veterans. It will provide them with the skills necessary to reintegrate into society, and to learn and grow as individuals. Simply put, this initiative is about providing healing and support to those who have given so much to this great country."

The foundation partnered with the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless to kick off the start of 24 residences for homeless veterans. These are the first 24 of 72 homes slated to be built for homeless veterans.

"We are building walls and floors for homes for the The Cove on Dundee off Wheaton Street," said CSAH Executive Director Cindy Kelley. "Nine Line Foundation is one of our strategic partners, and they are allowing us to use their land for the volunteer event. We have a lot of people who are donating their time as well as community members who care about housing homeless veterans."

Last year, 4,198 homeless individuals were served by authority agencies, a reduction from the 4,513 in 2016. That followed several years of increases in population numbers.

But despite the decline, Kelley said there simply isn't enough available affordable housing for those in need. So officials decided to create some.

"We have a critical shortage of housing for the homeless and homeless veterans, and so this is an opportunity once it's all built to house 72 veterans," she said. "This is the first of its kind in Georgia. The process has been really long from an idea to build just 10 homes and really grew."

From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, sounds of power tools could be heard from the Nine Line Apparel facility on Fort Argyle Road. A large number of Saturday's volunteers were in fact veterans themselves like James Blankenship, a U.S. Army veteran.

"I think veterans taking care of their own is on the top of the list," he said as he cut wood. "It's like family. You can't expect other people to take care of your own."

The houses will be moved to their permanent site and are slated to be ready for move in by December.

"Our veterans are so excited," Kelley said. "We are confident that once we have the first residents move in people will have a better understanding of these homes. They're tiny homes, They will have everything that a veteran will need and they are beautiful."

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(c)2018 Savannah Morning News (Savannah, Ga.)

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