Story last updated at 10/23/2013 - 2:07 pm
Health organizations are joining a veteran housing plan in Southeast Alaska, in an effort to tie together community services and improve patient care.
The Soboleff-McRae Veterans Village and Wellness Center announces ground floor occupants for the two-story building, now under construction in Haines. Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) physical therapy, Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL), Lynn Canal Counseling Services (LCCS), Hospice of Haines, Community and Veterans Organization (CAVO), Cornerstone Home Care and Haines Assisted Living, Inc. (HAL) each signed agreements with managing organization HAL indicating their intention to occupy the new Center with local offices.
"We're proud to welcome such valued community services into one cohesive location," said HAL Board President James Studley. "Having these resources working together close to Main Street and veteran and elder housing will streamline the good work these groups are doing."
The project is the first state-funded private veterans housing facility in Alaska, and will be built over the next year and a half with 11 housing units for veterans upstairs and 10,000 square feet of office space downstairs for healthcare support organizations, like Hospice.
"Hospice of Haines is excited about sharing useful spaces in the Wellness Center building with the agencies whose missions of care overlap with ours. We anticipate that the common spaces designated for training, grief supports, meetings and storage will help us meet our goals and maintain our budget," says Beth MacCready, Hospice of Haines Director.
The facility is named for Tlingit elder Dr. Walter Soboleff and CSM Howard McRae, Haines' highest decorated military veteran. It is designed to provide permanent affordable housing and consolidated supportive services to veterans, elders and the greater community.
The building site is located one block from Haines' Main Street, on Dalton Street and Second Avenue. It is situated in a complex of buildings that includes an assisted living facility and independent senior living apartments, each built and managed by HAL.
Community and Veterans Organization's Jim Moran believes the design will improve the services offered in Haines.
"Being in the same building with other health groups will improve our efficiency," said Moran. "If a client comes to me for help, it's most productive to collaborate with groups just down the hall to figure out a solution."
The ground floor design includes seven offices for the community health-related services. The floor plan also shows a shared conference room, a shared kitchen, bathrooms, privacy room, security system, a utility closet, storage units, stairs and an elevator.
The building is a HAL Gold Standard design, a combination of Alaska Housing efficiency standards and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, to keep operational costs to a minimum and maintenance costs limited.
In 2012, the State of Alaska approved $6.1 million for the construction of a building with high energy-efficiency standards and incorporating a management system that ensures self-sufficiency and sustainability with no recurring public subsidies. The estimated project budget is $8.2 million and HAL is raising the remainder of necessary funds through private donations, grants and community fundraisers.
Contributions can be made to the project through the web site, www.HainesWellnesCenter.org.
"This is a community that wants to see our valued citizens and services cared for," said Studley. "We think it is a good example of what people can do if they come together with a common vision and determination."
Haines has and is projected to continue to have a larger percentage of veterans among its residents than many other communities in the region and state. According to a Juneau Economic Development Council feasibility study, by 2025, the veteran population in Haines will have increased by 28% to 449 persons and 70% of its veterans will be 65 or older.
The veterans housing, located on the second floor with elevator and stair access, is expected to be ready for move-in Summer 2014. Seven of the units are two-bedroom apartments and four are one-bedroom apartments. The ground floor is expected to be ready for move-in by Spring 2015.
The facility is now under construction in downtown Haines, Alaska, a Southeast Alaska community with a population of 2,508 residents and an estimated 397 veterans.
For more information on the Soboleff-McRae Veterans Village and Wellness Center project, go to www.HainesWellnessCenter.org.