Soldier On Seeking North Adams ExpansionBy Andy McKeever
12:07PM / Thursday, March 08, 2012
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Soldier On is looking for city properties to open a veterans' community.
According to Soldier On CEO John "Jack" Downing, the nonprofit has asked city officials about available buildings to develop a community.
Soldier On works in collaboration with the Veterans Affairs to help homeless veterans back onto their feet. In North Adams, the group would be looking to open a veterans' community with limited equity housing like the one they opened in Pittsfield in 2010.
"We would like to be in North Adams because our veterans thrive in working class communities," Downing said recently. "We like to do things in Berkshire County because it's our home."
Soldier On is building communities in multiple states. Downing said there are about 15 capital projects in the works but a North Adams community would be only the second one in the county. The limited equity housing communities are built by Soldier On with state funds and then transferred to a holding company made up of the veterans that live there.
"We're not a burden on the taxes," Downing said. "I would love to do something in North Adams."
Soldier On owns the land but the community, in which veterans buy shares, owns the buildings, he said. The community is run by veterans and their rental fees go toward taxes and operating expenses. Any profit goes back to the veterans.
Downing was setting up tours of a couple sites in the city, including the former Flood House on Church Street. Housing Authority Chairman Marie Harpin had confirmed that the organization had shown interest in the house.
The Flood House is owned by the Housing Authority and Harpin said there are other organizations, such as the Brien Center, that have expressed interest in the site.
Downing said once he looks at a site and determines that it is feasible to develop, it will be up to the organization's development committee to sort out the funding and planning.