SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) – Starting Feb. 21, the Evergreen Veterans Apartments project will begin transforming a church in downtown Salem into affordable housing for local veterans.

DevNW, the nonprofit leading the project’s construction, will redevelop the former Evergreen Church located on Cottage Street NE into 17 studio and one-bedroom apartments. 

Nine of the housing units will specifically support veterans transitioning out of homelessness with services provided by the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency and funded by Oregon Housing and Community Services.

Veterans make up more than 5% of the city’s population and according to Salem Mayor Chris Hoy, veterans also represent one in 10 of those experiencing homelessness.

“That is wholly unacceptable to me,” Hoy said. “This project is part of the solution, and we need many more like it.”

The apartments will serve as the next step for veterans that graduate from the city’s short-term transitional housing project Tanner Project, also operated by the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency.

Sara Webb, the agency’s program director, said the transitional opportunity will help reduce the number of homeless veterans in the community.

“The direct placements out of Tanner Project partnered with the on-site supportive services will serve to create a holistic continuum designed for long-term stabilization for a population who should never live one day on the street,” Webb said.

Before beginning the Evergreen project, DevNW has developed properties in Lane, Linn and Benton counties that serve 994 people, all of whom live with low income.