Honor Homes opens door to new veteran housing

There are new options now for veterans looking for a home thanks to the launch of an Honor Homes program in communities across the Illinois Quad Cities region.

Project NOW of Rock Island, a community action agency, has renovated the first of its Honor Homes and is looking for military members, honorably-served veterans or essential workers interested in the rent-to-buy housing program.

Honor Home
Project NOW has kicked off a new Honor Homes program that provides a rent-to-buy option to military veterans or essential workers. This first home, in Rock Island, is fully furnished. CREDIT STEVE TRAINOR

The two-bedroom home, located at 620 14th St., Rock Island, was unveiled to the media during a Friday, July 8, tour.  

The renovated home – one of six Honor Homes in the works – is only 650 square feet and rents for $490 a month for up to a family of three. Fair market rents are about $800 a month for a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house. 

Through its Honor Homes program, Project NOW is rehabilitating single-family homes and duplexes in an effort to help close the gap of affordable rental homes in the region. 

The first Honor Home was originally built in 1900 but has “good bones” as builders say. The Project Now staff and contractors have spent the past several months taking it down to the studs and turning the house into a home. 

The nonprofit Humble Dwellings of Eldridge fully furnished the place. Other amenities are all new including the furnace, water heater, air conditioner, appliances, carpeting and furniture.

Estes Construction, United Way of the Quad Cities, Sisters of St. Benedict, and Modern Woodmen of America also donated to the first home.

Project NOW’s Community Services Director Ron Lund says the new owner(s) must apply and pass an interview. “We’re looking for someone who is physically able to maintain the home,” he added. “We have to be conscious of the yard work and snow shoveling.”

Mr. Lund, a U.S. Marine veteran himself, said Project NOW is not concerned about whether the renter served in peacetime or during a war, how old they are or whether or not they are being treated by the Veterans Administration. “We just want to be sure they can live independently.”

The renter can become the owner and buy the home after five years.

“There’s clearly a need for affordable housing, especially for vets in the QCA,” Mr. Lund noted, citing a recent Silos to Solutions study. “We are short more than 6,600 affordable units in the cities.”

Project NOW said it welcomes donation of more properties to expand the new program.

The other Honor homes will include: three additional homes in Rock Island, one in Moline and one in Kewanee, Illinois. 

The next Rock Island Honor Home, located at 929 12th Ave., is currently being renovated and will not be completed until 2023. Youth Build, a community-based alternative education program, has teens working on that home, along with contractors, the agency said. 

The other four Honor Homes under development are:

  • 505 13th Ave., Rock Island.
  • 103 N. Elm Street, Kewanee.
  • 402 7th St., Moline. (Expected to be completed by year’s end.)
  • 518 6th St., Rock Island.

Renters interested in the first Rock Island Honor Home can apply at www.projectnow.org or call Megan Anyaugo, housing manager, at (309) 793-6391.

Get the free QCBJ email newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the people, companies and issues that impact business in the  Quad Cities area.