Fayetteville officials hoping development will help homeless vets

(Nate Rodgers/CBS North Carolina)


FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — According to recent census data, there are almost 900 veterans throughout the state that are homeless. Right now, Fayetteville city leaders are working on a plan to combat that problem.

Fayetteville Veterans Administration officials say flooding from Hurricane Matthew likely caused more veterans to become homeless.

Purell Lavender served the U.S. Army for more than 5 years as a material control specialist.

Lavender says he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and eventually discharged from the military.

Today, the 54-year-old is homeless.

Lavender said, “You just gotta stay out there until something becomes available, until you die or maybe someone can help you, maybe a family member.”

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If all goes well, land at 7856 Raeford Road will provide veteran housing and supportive services to more than 40 veterans currently homeless in Cumberland County.

Retired Col. Elizabeth Goolsby of the VA said, “Our veterans have already served us and this is our opportunity to serve them.”

The process is still in the exploratory phase, but initial plans include 50 or more housing units. The site is less than two miles from Fayetteville’s Raeford Road VA hospital.

“I think it makes a lot of sense in order to put it in a location which healthcare services are already available and potential job and educational opportunities,” Goolsby said.

Right now in Cumberland County, there’s limited overnight housing for homeless individuals in general.

The potential for veteran housing is something Purrell Lavender calls a miracle. Cardinal Capital Management of Wisconsin is the developer. There’s no timeline yet for completion, but Fayetteville officials are optimistic.

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