Veterans housing in Lebanon in works

Following the passion of his heart and the history of his family, James Lutz, the great-grandson of Edward C. Allworth, is closing in on his dream to build Applegate Landing, an affordable housing project for veterans in Lebanon.

“My great-grandfather, he housed veterans that came back from World War II, in the Memorial Union in Corvallis,” Lutz said. “He was a big dog on campus, and I always remembered that story from my great-grandmother.”

Allworth is the namesake for the Veterans Home next to Pioneer School, and whose descendants have continued to serve in the military to this day. Though Lutz always thought he’d join, too, he instead finds himself following in his great-grandfather’s footsteps by providing housing for veterans in need.

“I just thought it would be nice if the veterans had somewhere local here, with a very veteran-friendly community,” he said. “It’d be nice to have Lebanon as kind of a hub for veterans.”

This map shows the location off Strawberry Lane wherein Applegate Landing will be located if Lutz gets the needed funding. Provided photo.

Lutz, in partnership with Crossroads Communities, a local housing advocacy and support organization, has designed a 48-unit housing project located on 8.2 acres off Strawberry Lane, perpendicular to  Airport Road just south of Stoltz Hill Road and Grampa’s Market. Twelve of those units are reserved for veterans, and the other 36 are veteran-preference but will also be available to low-income and transitional residents.

Crossroads, a nonprofit “dedicated to providing transitional housing for those recovering from life’s challenges,” will be based in the community center, where they will do intakes and provide classes, said KJ Ullfers, a founder of Crossroads.

Ullfers said he wants to provide housing opportunities not only to homeless veterans, but also to those who graduate from the Teen Challenge program.

“The biggest hole in the system is that once they’re released from the program, they don’t have some place that’s safe for them to go that will help them deal with those triggers that got them there to begin with,” he said.

“Our program provides them that stable housing with accountability and the support of AA and mental health.”

Lutz and Ullfers connected through chance, and began working together a couple years ago. They’ve battled through multiple hurdles as they learned how to make their big dream a reality together. What stands in their way right now is time and money.

“The main source of funding for the project will come from state housing credits,” Lutz said.

JAMES LUTZ shows details on plans for a 48-unit housing complex intended primarily for veterans. Photo by Sarah Brown

 With help from CASA of Oregon, Community and Shelter Assistance Corp, the Applegate and Crossroads team recently submitted their request for that financial support, and will get their answer in a few months.

Lutz and Ullfers feel optimistic about securing the request, but are still hesitant to expect it. If the funding doesn’t go through, they’ll try again next year, Lutz said.

“I actually feel really good; I think that the people that are chasing this for us did a top notch job,” Lutz said. “If it doesn’t go, the plan is to eventually do it, even if it has to come out of our own pocket.”

CASA informed them they scored really high on their application, “but nothing ain’t nothing until it’s in the bank,” Ullfers said. Regardless of the outcome, Crossroads is moving forward.

“We’re gonna start getting people off the street and into the system, and start getting them treated,” he said.

Currently, Crossroads is working on raising funds and subscribing to a software program that follows people through their entire time in the aftercare system so they don’t fall through the cracks, he said.

Crossroads will manage intake applications for Applegate’s subsidized housing, provide life skills classes, and connect people with various social service and educational resources.

Lutz’ ADA-accessible housing project includes designs for a dog park, play area, amphitheater, garden structures, veterans memorial park, access to an inter-city trail, and, eventually, a total number of 168 units.

“I’ve always had that urge to want to do something for veterans and to continue to help, kind of as a family legacy,” he said. “I really love Lebanon, and we’ve sunk our roots here. I want to do this for the community. You don’t make any money doing it, but you’re doing it because it’s been a vision and a dream, and it adds well to the Allworth home. So I just decided I’m just gonna jump in with both feet.”

For more information, visit CrossroadsC.org and CasaOfOregon.org.