News - August 3, 2011

New plan for housing at VA campus in Menlo Park

by Alison Myoraku

The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to work with a contractor to build new, affordable housing for veterans and other at-risk people at the VA medical center campus off Willow Road in Menlo Park.

Over the next couple of weeks, the VA will seek bids from contractors to lease 1.9 acres on the 96-acre campus to build the housing. The options include affordable and permanent housing for veterans, and assisted living or independent housing for seniors. There may be retail and office space, too.

The contractor, which could be a public, private or nonprofit entity, would most likely construct a new facility on the allotted land, said Kerri Childress, communications officer for the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, which includes the Menlo Park campus.

Local VA officials discussed the plan at a public meeting on the Menlo Park campus on Thursday, July 28.

The project may "provide housing for veterans returning from military service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and give them the opportunity to remain in this area while seeking advanced education and working locally," said Kelli Emery, the project manager.

The Bay Area has one of the largest populations of homeless veterans in the country, said Jason Nietupski, director of facility planning for VA.

Under legislation that expires in 2012, the VA can lease out unused land and facilities for these purposes under something called an "Enhanced-Use Lease." The lease would run for 75 years, and then the property and structures would revert to the VA.

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