May 07, 2019
Veterans Village founder Arnold Stalk had a dream to honor his Father who served in WWII — and to help end homelessness for vets in Las Vegas who’ve fallen on hard times, after serving their country. “Our mission is to treat our U.S. veteran heroes with respect and dignity,” says Stalk of the nonprofit SHARE which runs the Veterans Village housing communities.
After founding Veterans Village I in 2012, Stalk expanded two years ago to create Veterans Village II — to house even more homeless vets and provide them with much needed services.
Stalk turned to Berkadia and Freddie Mac Multifamily to refinance Veterans Village II, now home to 180 veterans in the heart of downtown Las Vegas. “The financing was an absolute life saver to us, to be able to pay off our private investor and our first loan, and reduce our interest rate,” says Stalk. “It’s allowed us to spread our wings.”
“This is a great project, and we’re excited that it’s one of our first OptigoSM Targeted Affordable Mezzanine Loans,” said David Leopold, vice president of Freddie Mac Multifamily Affordable Sales & Investments. “Properties like Veterans Village II are what we had in mind when we created this new, innovative offering to preserve affordable housing.” (Learn more about Mezz)
Berkadia financed both Veterans Village communities. “When we saw the community and the team at work, we were inspired to do our part,” said Berkadia EVP and head of Production Ernie Katai.
All units at Veterans Village II are affordable to low-income veterans with incomes of 80 percent or less of Area Median Income (AMI). Many residents receive tenant-based VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) vouchers to help pay rent.
“We really appreciate Freddie Mac’s flexibility in making this deal happen,” said Ernie Katai, Berkadia EVP and head of Production. “Thank you for continually evolving your products and seeking ways to make deals happen, even when the target moves on us. We truly appreciate our partnership and strong relationship with your affordable team.”
So what do residents who move to Veterans Village II find? A permanent place to live, medical and mental health services, and job placement assistance, for starters. With a beauty salon on site, each new resident even has the option of getting a makeover.
“Whatever the problem is, we find a solution,” says Stalk.
Through their food share program, Stalk partners with local businesses like Caesar’s Palace, The Venetian, Whole Foods, Starbucks and Trader Joe’s to help feed residents.
“We pick up wonderful prepared food in our refrigerated trucks that would otherwise be thrown out,” said Stalk. “Talk about recycling!”
He adds, “We get food donations from 75 Starbucks stores a night from midnight to 4 a.m.”
Working with community partners, Stalk has turned his vision for homeless veterans into a reality. “We have a system that really works. Berkadia gave us an opportunity to grow and expand our services.”
So what does he see for the future? “We can replicate this in any neighborhood across the country,” Stalk says. “We’d like to set up shop in Washington, D.C., to show how the private sector can provide a solution to a chronic problem: treating veterans with dignity and respect.”
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