By Jean Gordon Cook
(JACKSON, Miss.) – The West Jackson Development Coalition has enlisted the support of the Massachusetts-based organization Soldier On to work toward building Mississippi’s first housing development for homeless veterans. The coalition includes the Center for University-Based Development (CUBD) at Jackson State University, Voice of Calvary Ministries, the Center for Social Entrepreneurship, the Contact Crisis Line, members of the Department of Veterans Affairs and veteran advocates.
“This is something that everyone can agree on, that our veterans are entitled to live with dignity and stability,” said Dorothy Triplett, the convener of the local group that is working on the housing project. “I’m so inspired by the whole philosophy of the Soldier On development. They can actually have something to call their own and they can be a community.”
To move the vision to reality, Soldier On president Jack Downing and Taylor Caswell, president of Soldier On’s nonprofit real estate development subsidiary, will meet with Jackson civic and community leaders at 8 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, at the University Club, 210 E. Capitol St. in Jackson. Leaders from Soldier On and the coalition will be available to media following the meeting.
“We’re trying to model our development after Soldier On,” said CUBD director Kimberly Hilliard. “We’ve been working with them for several months. This will be our first in-person meeting with Soldier On and government leaders and veterans’ advocates in Mississippi.”
Soldier On has developed limited-equity veterans’ housing developments in Massachusetts, including the Gordon H. Mansfield Veterans Community in Pittsfield, which features solar-paneled attached units. The organization employs formerly homeless veterans and also provides education, training and supportive services. Soldier On president Jack Downing says veterans deserve “housing as a place that will allow them a sense of belonging, and to reestablish their dignity and purpose.”
For more information, call Dorothy Triplett 601-750-1855 or Kimberly Hilliard at 601- 979-2255.