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June 19. 2013 9:22PM

New Queen City building for veterans aims at July 1 for first residents

MANCHESTER — Manchester's new facility for homeless veterans is planning to start taking in residents by the first of July.

Harbor Homes hosted an official ribbon-cutting ceremony last week for the BAE Systems Independence Hall at 335 Somerville St.

It's the first facility in Manchester for Nashua-based Harbor Homes and its Veterans FIRST program that provides housing and services for veterans in need.

"We try to assist any way possible to get them back on their feet so that they can become independent," said Jean Melvin, program manager for Independence Hall.

The non-profit company runs similar facilities in Nashua and is expanding to the state's largest city.

Construction on the building began last June and was completed in less than a year.

The ceremonial opening was last Friday, when Mayor Ted Gatsas and BAE Systems representatives were among the dignitaries gathered for the cutting of the ribbon.

Melvin said there was also a compelling video that showed the adjustment veterans face after serving in the Armed Forces.

"It was touching them. You could see how people were nodding their heads and acknowledging. I think it impacted the crowd," she said. "It just kind of opens your eyes to the challenges and experience when they get back."

The Manchester project is part of a four-year plan to end homelessness for veterans in the Granite State. There are an estimated 600 homeless veterans in New Hampshire and 7,000 households considered at-risk.

Independence Hall includes 26 units of one and two-bedroom apartments. Six of them are designated for permanent residents and the other 20 are for veterans to use for a transitional period of up to two years.

Melvin said Harbor Homes helps them find jobs and eventually move on to independence.

Because it's a brand-new facility, there are a few matters still to be finalized before the facility can start taking in residents.

"Everything is working and ready to go," she said. "It's very exciting."

For more information, go to harborhomes.org/


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