Hoboken American Legion breaks ground on 20,000-foot expansion to help veterans
A vital project to help homeless veterans broke ground in Hoboken on Tuesday, coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The current American Legion 107 headquarters in Hoboken is less than three years old. It was rebuilt in 2019 after the original was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. And it is now going to get much bigger, by expanding into an empty lot next door.
The current building had a meeting and canteen space for members, plus six units for homeless veterans. The 20,000-foot expansion will add 18 more units.
“There should be no homeless veterans. The word ‘homeless’ should never be used with veterans,” says Post 107 Commander John Carey. “We have to take care of our veterans.”
The headquarters is currently housing six once-homeless veterans.
“They are all working. They are all members of the Post – all honorably discharged veterans. They feel very grateful that they are off the street. Their lives were saved and now they are in a position that they want to pay it forward,” says Jack Dunne, state vice commander of District 2.
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The new units will come fully furnished with all appliances. The veterans housed there will pay what they can for as long as they need. Unlike homeless shelters, this will be a place a veteran can call home forever.
“There’s always been homeless veterans’ shelters, but it wasn’t offering them a home. That’s where the different philosophy came in where this is actually a home for them,” says Daniel Dunn, state commander for the American Legion.
There will also be added space for members, as well as services for all who served.
“This is going to be a veterans’ center. There will be employment opportunities here. There will be counseling for veterans with PTSD. This will be all-inclusive for the veteran community,” says Dunn. “There will be a banquet hall that will help engage the community, something I think is a win-win situation.”
The American Legion relies primarily on donors and volunteers. There have already been many generous donations to this project. On Tuesday, both The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and the local Hoboken Grace Community Church each donated $100,000 dollars toward the project.
The expansion is expected to be completed by summer 2023.