Consolidated Nuclear Security's donation of $25,000 to the Helen Ross McNabb Center's Veterans Housing Project served as one of the final building blocks in the $1.83-million effort to provide permanent housing to homeless veterans who have mental illnesses. On Dec. 15, the ribbon was cut on the first apartment building, and the first four homeless veterans moved into their new homes in time to celebrate Christmas.
The CNS donation helped fund the newly constructed Cedar Crossing apartment building on Coster Road in Knoxville, which provides eight one-bedroom units. The second phase of the project is rehabilitating a former apartment complex off Washington Pike that will provide another 15 apartment homes. The three-building Washington Oaks renovation is expected to be completed by March 2015.
"The CNS donation helped the Helen Ross McNabb Center meet its goal to complete 23 units of housing for homeless veterans living with mental illness. We would not be able to complete the project without your support," said Helen Ross McNabb Center Director of Community Relations Emily Scheuneman. She added that three additional veterans are preparing to move into Cedar Crossing. Counting the unit manager, the building will be filled.
CNS Chief Operating Officer Morgan Smith attended the ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of the apartments.
"A significant number of veterans continue their service to our country through their work at the Y‑12 National Security Complex. CNS has made this donation in honor of them, and all veterans, in recognition of their willing sacrifice to our country. It is our sincere hope that Cedar Crossing will provide a vibrant home for veterans who are having a difficult time readjusting to civilian life," Smith said.
Jerry Vagnier, president and CEO of the Helen Ross McNabb Center, said the housing project will provide veterans with more than merely a temporary roof over their heads. Veterans Administration case managers and their counterparts from the Helen Ross McNabb Center will provide ongoing services to the permanent residents.
"This new facility will provide veterans facing mental illness and homelessness with stability and a place to call home," Vagnier said "In this type of environment, they can get the help and support they need to lead healthy and successful lives.
"For the McNabb Center to be able to provide housing for people that are homeless and are veterans, there really is no higher calling. It's just amazing, and the community support we've had on this project just blows me away frankly," he said.
In addition to the CNS donation, funding for the project was provided by the United Way of Greater Knoxville, the City of Knoxville, Knox County Government, Tennessee Housing Development Agency, Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati, the Mike Hammond Concert Series, and private donors.