By Kristi Waterworth
Americans show support for their military by waving flags or producing spectacular care packages for troops overseas. Few Americans, however, go to the lengths that Century 21 Affiliated Chicago REO Director Noel Christopher and the Residence for Patriots Foundation have to ensure that those veterans return to a normal life.
Christopher, the vice president of outreach with the Residence for Patriots Foundation, has been active in Chicago-area neighborhood revitalization programs. While there were small, locally-focused programs designed to help returning and disabled veterans find housing, he soon realized there was nothing on the national level that could compare.
He and his colleagues are taking the knowledge learned from helping local veterans and are applying it to meet the needs of veterans on a much wider scale.
“Our main mission is to provide rehabilitated homes to active military and veterans, with at least a 30 percent discount from fair market value,” explained Christopher. “We’ll also be renting homes to vets, providing seller financing from the foundation and educating them in traditional financing. For disabled veterans, there’s a lot of grant money for retrofitting a home.”
While not started quite yet, the Residence for Patriots Foundation will begin working on its first homes within the next 60 days, and intends to bring homes into the program that are distressed and foreclosed. Christopher’s plan is to hire local contractors for necessary repairs and modifications, especially any that might be needed to accommodate disabled veterans.
The program isn’t limited to the Chicago area, or even the state of Illinois; Christopher aims for this program to work in conjunction with similarly minded community-level non-profits to locate veterans in need. Thanks to the foundation’s connections to a variety of large banks, an applicant seeking homes in a specific area should be able to be accomodated.
“Our model is to bring the veterans into the program and then find them a home,” said Christopher. “We are not necessarily looking to acquire a bunch of homes and then find veterans to fill them. We’ll go to our banking relationships, acquire a home and rehabilitate the property for the veteran. The idea is that they’re not putting any money up – we’re even covering their allowed upfront costs with grants.”
Ultimately, Christopher envisions the Residence for Patriots Foundation providing community-based counseling, as well as a collaborative space for a variety of supportive initiatives for veterans. The end goal of the Residence for Patriots Foundation is to provide everything necessary for veterans to reintegrate into a normal American life.
“There are a tremendous number of vets that are coming back injured – a lot are coming back with post-traumatic stress disorder, but it goes so much deeper than the physical and emotional injuries,” Christopher explained. “They’re coming back to an economy that’s very tough – both politically and socially. These people are sometimes neglected in being given support and that’s where we are really wanting to help.”
Residence for Patriots is always seeking veterans for its many programs, Christopher says, and materials are available on its website: residenceforpatriots.org. Any VA-qualifying borrower is eligible for assistance, even if they are unable to qualify for a home mortgage. Contact Christopher at [email protected] for more information.