Help for homeless veterans in Ottawa

OTTAVA – Bill Beaton thanks every moment in his new place of residence near downtown Ottawa.

“Finally, we’re starting to do something for the current veterinarians not just for the old vets,” he said.

A veteran with the Canadian Air Force, serving from 1979 to 1986, his story too familiar to those who served. About fifteen years ago, he caught pneumonia ending up in a hospital and put on a disability due to chronic pain.

“There are a lot of veterinarians who are still on the streets, whether it’s about addiction mental health or just life happening,” Beaton said. “I accidentally fall into the category of life happened.”

Beaton was in and out of shelters, explaining that it was only in the last few years life was somewhat stable with the help of organizations like Soldiers for Soldiers and Veterans Affairs Canada.

“Try looking for a place in Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto for less than $ 800 a month. If you earn only $ 1,100 a month with ODSB, you have $ 300 left to live on,” he said.

That’s when he was approached about Veterans ’House, a home that exclusively serves veterans who were previously homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Located in Ottawa’s former Rockcliffe Airbase, now the Wateridge Village Community at the Andy Carswell Building Veterans House, it is the first of its kind in the country.

The house opened in January, offering 40 bachelor units that are subsidized. Led by the Multifaith Housing Initiative, the plan is to start a fundraising campaign in 2022 to build four more houses across the country.

“Housing is the foundation of everything,” said Suzanne Le, the executive director of Multifaith Housing Initiative and Veterans House Canada. “We owe it to all those people who served us care and we owe them a debt and that’s how we can. Start repaying it.”

Beaton, who turns 66 in January, said he is grateful for such a facility and would like to see more across the country.

“Bettors aren’t just here in Ottawa, they’re across the country. These guys need help, they need places like this.”

For more information on the Veterans House, visit the website.

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