ACCESS is constructing new housing on Front Street near Jackson Street in Medford. [Mail Tribune / Andy Atkinson]

A home run for veterans

A 17-unit, low-cost apartment complex for veterans is set to open in Medford by the end November, and the selection process for its tenants is expected to begin this month.

The $1.94 million project is a partnership between ACCESS and Commercial Counsel Inc., owned by Fred Herrmann, the former owner of Medford’s Oakland A’s minor league baseball franchise that left town in 1999.

The two-story complex, named Victory Place, is located on two lots at the corner of Front and Second streets. The lots belong to Commercial Counsel, according to property tax records.

Victory Place is ACCESS’s 17th housing project since 1995, according to Mail Tribune records. ACCESS has been an aid and resource to veterans and seniors in Jackson County, providing services in health care, finances and housing, said housing director Joe Vollmar.

“The project is a huge addition for the community,” Vollmar said. “One of our biggest problems is that after finding people and directing them to the funding they need, we have no housing to house them.”

ACCESS helped Herrmann secure a federal grant of $1.75 million last November for the complex. Vollmar said it’s up to Herrmann to decide who will be the tenants at Victory Place.

“We just started talking to him last week,” Vollmar said. “We haven’t worked out any details of who will be living there when it’s opened. Whether he wants to be hands-off or to be involved from start to finish, all of that is going to be decided in the next week or two.”

The complex, approved by the Medford Site Plan and Architectural Commission in May, will serve as permanent housing for homeless veterans, Vollmar said. He anticipates tenants will be individuals and couples, because the units are studios or one bedroom.

Oregon is ranked fourth in the nation for the highest rate of homeless veterans at 55 percent, after Hawaii, Mississippi and California, according to a 2016 report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That equates to 1,341 homeless veterans, 738 of whom are unsheltered.

The HUD report also points out a 5 percent increase of homeless veterans since 2009.

ACCESS prioritizes its affordable housing options to those whose income is at 50 to 60 percent of the local median income. ACCESS has about 80 locations in Jackson County for veterans, seniors and disabled citizens, as well as those with low incomes.

Vollmar said housing is always a growing need for the organization.

“We have been trying to mitigate the problem,” Vollmar said. “But there’s always room to improve.”

 — Reach reporting intern Tran Nguyen at 541-776-4485 or Follow her on Twitter at @nguyenntrann.



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