New center will provide housing, support for veterans in the Austin neighborhood

Organizers say they will need more funding to complete the project and keep it running in the long term.

SHARE New center will provide housing, support for veterans in the Austin neighborhood
This abandoned building located the 4900 block of West Chicago Avenue will soon be renovated into the Arthur Lockhart Resource Institute’s Veteran Wellness Center, which aims to house and assist veterans in need in Chicago’s Austin and West Garfield Park neighborhoods. Friday, Feb. 17, 2023.| Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

This abandoned building in the 4900 block of West Chicago Avenue will soon be renovated into the Arthur Lockhart Resource Institute’s Veteran Wellness Center, which will house and assist veterans in need in Chicago’s Austin and West Garfield Park neighborhoods. | Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

A state grant will help create a new facility to house and support veterans in the Austin neighborhood, but organizers for the project say they need more funds to complete it.

The Arthur Lockhart Resource Institute and Healing Temple Church announced Friday the creation of the Veteran Wellness Center, which will have six apartments for veterans and their families. The facility will also provide physical therapy and mental health services — all free for veterans in need.

“We have come a long way, and by faith, we will get it done,” said Elizabeth Lockhart, executive director of the Healing Temple Church, who is spearheading the project. “We have started the rehab process. But we need to take it further. We need help to get it done.”

The center will be housed in a currently vacant property owned by and located next door to the Healing Temple Church in the 4900 block of West Chicago Avenue.

This abandoned building located the 4900 block of West Chicago Avenue will soon be renovated into the Arthur Lockhart Resource Institute’s Veteran Wellness Center, which aims to house and assist veterans in need in Chicago’s Austin and West Garfield Park neighborhoods, Friday, Feb. 17, 2023. | Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

When renovated, the building will be home to the Veteran Wellness Center, which will include six apartments for veterans and their families, plus a center for physical and mental health services. | Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Lockhart made the announcement with a group of veterans, many of whom served during the Korean and Vietnam wars, and with Illinois state Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, outside the center’s future home.

“The Lockharts believe we should celebrate our veterans year-round, not just on Veterans Day,” said Ford, who grew up across the street.

“We have a great example of a church and a nonprofit fighting for our veterans to have housing and supportive services for the needs that veterans may have,” Ford said. “But there is not enough money. We need to raise more to complete this project.”

The state awarded a $324,000 grant for the project, which has helped the group start on renovations, including a new roof and hardwood floors. But Lockhart said the project needs an additional $350,000 to complete the project and provide the funding needed to keep the center open.

The aim is to open the apartments and health center this fall, which will serve veterans in both the Austin and West Garfield Park communities.

“This is a good project, and not only that, it’s prime proof of what [Lockhart] is doing for the community,” said Frank Thompson, a veteran and the 1st Division commander of the American Legion Department of Illinois.

“One thing we veterans have modeled is that we don’t leave veterans behind.”

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