LZ Phoenix seeking new site

Veteran transition shelter considers options as Waverly Homes expands
by Anelia K. Dimitrova

The veterans shelter in town is looking for shelter.

LZ Phoenix, the facility which opened in September of 2015 to house veterans in transition, will need to relocate by the end of January because Waverly Homes, the non profit which owns the home at 420 16th St. NW will be demolishing it.

Neal Jarnagin, the director of Rally Point Cedar Valley Veterans, the non-profit running the shelter, said his group knew all along that at some point the shelter would have to move since Waverly Homes had been planning an expansion for some time.

“We have been looking for another place since we opened,” he said.

Two other organizations offered to house the shelter with conditions similar to the current situation where Waverly Homes charges a dollar a year, Jarnagin said, but the plans fell through.

Jarnagin said that since the home opened its doors, 31 veterans, among them two single women and two families with children, have successfully completed the 90-day program offered by LZ Phoenix and are still permanently housed.

But the number of veterans who sought services is 45, with some relocating to Mason City or enrolling in treatment programs.

Jarnagin says his organization plans to continue to run the shelter despite whatever challenges may lay ahead.

“The ideal situation would be a four-bedroom home in Waverly we can rent for a dollar for an undetermined amount of time,” he said. “The shelter needs to be centrally located in Waverly so the veterans can walk or bike to their place of work.”

No special zoning is required for the shelter. Various community organizations have pitched in to sponsor events to fundraise for the shelter.

“My dream would be a veterans transitional community on the outskirts of Waverly with transportation to town a couple of times a day,” Jarnagin said. “I want to maintain the volunteer nature of it. Something similar to the Boy Scout camp would be ideal.

“My dream is to have tiny homes with various levels of stake-holding on the part of the veterans and a community of veterans with similar experiences living together in a supervised, safe environment. We are years from that though.

“It’s important that the shelter stay in Bremer County because Waverly is a community that supports its veterans so ferociously that I couldn’t think of another place where veterans would be supported as much. I can’t reiterate enough, this is the only one in Iowa that provides transitional housing to active duty veterans, national guard, reservists, their families and their pets free of charge for their entire stay. We could certainly be charging rent, as others do, but that would mean we fail those individuals that need our help the most.