First all-veteran neighborhood breaks ground in Georgia

(Connecting Vets, August 24, 2018) by Kaylah Jackson

Imagine, a neighborhood just for veterans. It might seem like a far reach but in Douglas County, Georgia, that’s exactly what’s happening.

The Northwest Metro Atlanta Habitat for Humanity just broke ground on its first all-military neighborhood— Veterans Place.

Located on Military Way, the land for the new subdivision, purchased from the Douglas County Housing Authority, will include eight homes, ranging from 1,444 to 1,547 square feet.

“When I arrived in Douglasville and found that ‘yes, there is a need for housing that is affordable but no one is ministering to the veterans. It was an idea that we were blessed to come on,” said David McGinnis, president, and CEO of NW Metro Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.

The first finished home within Veterans Place was dedicated to Marine veteran, Lester Roberson.

Photo courtesy of NW Metro Atlanta Habitat for Humanity

Roberson served in the Marine Corps as a Warehouseman while stationed at Camp Pendleton and after he left the service he found work at General Motors. But even while working, he often spent time staying with his niece and at one time, even living in his car. But Roberson doesn't fret about his time after the Marines, instead, he focuses his attention on the gratitude he has for Habit for Humanity.

"The most exciting thing about it, especially young men and women, they came and volunteered their time. Everyone that has put hands on to build this house, you always got a place, you always got a home," says Roberson.

Roberson, along with volunteers and various sponsors spent weeks getting their hands dirty building the house, something Habit for Humanity calls "Sweat Equity." Roberson had to spend a certain amount of hours helping to build another Habitat for Humanity home, as well as his own. He also had to take homeownership classes designed to teach recipients about financing and managing the home.

McGinnis, explains this project has been a community effort between the government, community, and sponsors.

“Seeing it come to fruition and talking to the veterans that have given so much to provide the freedom of our lifestyle here in the United States and then to see the excitement and the joy that you bring and change a life like we have, it’s the crown jewel of my career.”

Once they have the financial support from sponsors and the land availability, the organization plans to build two houses a year.

Roberson says "it still hasn't sunk in yet...I like to just sit back and observe." And thanks to a rocking chair that features a Marine Corps emblem, gifted to him from a Habit for Humanity worker, he'll be able to sit back and do just that--in his brand new home.

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