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Expansion project in Bridgeport promises more housing for veterans

State and local officials break ground
Abigail Brone
Connecticut Public
State and local officials break ground on a project to expand Homes for the Brave, a veteran housing non-profit in Bridgeport.

Homes for the Brave in Bridgeport broke ground Friday on an expansion project that will house more veterans.

The nonprofit on Park Avenue, opened in 2002. It provides transitional and permanent housing for veterans and others experiencing homelessness.

The expansion of its facility will include a new wing with single-bed rooms with individual bathrooms. It will also feature the building’s first elevator.

“We are a little bit limited. There’s no elevator in this building, so veterans that are using wheelchairs did not have the opportunity to go from the basement to the third floor and couldn't even stay here,” Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Vincent Santilli said.

The individual rooms will help prevent the spread of disease within the facility and provide more privacy for telehealth appointments.

“We will go from floors where we have 20 veterans using the same restrooms. All of our rooms are doubles, triples and quads. None of them are private and instead we have the opportunity now to really deliver 12 suites and they will be private rooms with their own restrooms,” Santilli said.

In 2022, 94% of the men and women served by Homes for the Brave were veterans. While most residents are from Connecticut, some travel from out of state to use the services.

Staff work with clients to create goals, help them achieve stable income and housing and increase self-determination.

“This is a historic facility. Historic in the sense that it has served people who have given to our country in a unique and enduring way,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal said. “The least we can do for them is provide a roof over their heads, shelter, food and services when they need it.”

The project will be designed by Enterprise Builders, a Newington-based company. The company has a history of working with veterans’ programs across the state, including a project at Connecticut Valley Hospital.

One of the wing’s designers, Eric Lamore, is a veteran. Lamore served in the 1990s at Marine Corps Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina and in Kosovo.

“We prefer to do things that are appreciated by the masses. To build for a specific group like veterans is a huge sense of accomplishment and a great feeling for us. I wouldn't say we necessarily seek it out but we welcome the opportunity every chance we get,” Lamore said.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.

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