14 disabled veterans thrive in new Emerson housing
Fourteen disabled and formerly homeless veterans have gotten a new lease on life thanks to the American Legion in Emerson.
The veterans were able to obtain housing due to a deal with the American Legion and the Housing Authority of Bergen County.
“To finally come in and say ‘This is home,’ that was priceless,” says veteran James Frazier.
Frazier says that he was homeless for about three years.
"You have nowhere to turn, nowhere to go,” he says.
The American Legion leased the land for the housing to Bergen County for $1 a year. The units are fully furnished. It cost about $3 million to complete the project.
"You don't expect something like this,” says veteran Chris Donovan. "There are so many different amenities you don't know where to start and who to thank."
Bergen County was recognized last year for being the first county in the state to eradicate veteran homelessness.
"That's the beautiful thing. It's not ended. It's just functional zero and in order to maintain it at functional zero, there has to be commitment,” Lynn Bartlett with the Housing Authority of Bergen County says.
Frazier says that he can attest to that commitment. He says there were people who counseled him and helped type his resume so that he could get a new job at a bakery. Those people helped him find a new home.
"Everything is new for me, everything,” he says.
The historic Peter DeBaun House, which is also on site, will be restored as part of the deal. The structure was built in 1770.