Since 2015, the Project Love Coalition has worked diligently to increase opportunities in entrepreneurship, workforce development/job training, affordable housing, supportive services, wellness services and produce positive outcomes for veterans living in central Pittsburgh. Our services reach thousands of Pittsburghers with the help of more than 15 nonprofit partners on-site offering programs that emphasize education, provide job training and invest in the next generation of Pittsburghers that will help the South Western Pennsylvania region grow for everyone.
Where our city and county fail to meet the needs of our homeless veterans is in our low housing stock and support services. Construction of a new mixed use resource center building is desperately needed. Project Love Coalition is administratively situated in a downtown workspace with very little office or space for group educational training or one-on-one veteran consultations.
The Agri Trade Institute Resource Center Capital Campaign is a $5 million endeavor that will provide funding for a new 10,000-square-foot resource and engagement center that will be constructed directly along the Centre Avenue economic corridor in the Hill District neighborhood of Pittsburgh, giving our organization the capacity to contribute to the economic revitalization of an up and coming area, provide housing to homeless veterans, hold educational seminars and provide confidential veteran consultation. Additionally, the new resource center will include community engagement operations that will serve as a pick up/drop off site for food and help us bring people together to learn and build in a community.
At the Institute, an entire floor called the “Eco House” will be devoted to providing permanent supportive housing program for homeless veterans to live with us. Here, veterans can live independently and focus on improving mental, emotional, physical and financial stability. They can also participate in workforce development programs that help them to finish their education, develop work skills and find a job to get their life back or do volunteer service to become valued members of the community.
We will have 6 beds to rapidly re-house homeless veterans and prevent homelessness for those at imminent risk due to a housing crisis. The veterans we serve in our residential program can live with us for 3-month increments, length of stay will be goal-based to give the veterans time to focus on recovery, education, and getting the employment that will enable them to get their life back.
At the Institute, we’ll have an entire floor devoted to serving veterans who live with us. Here, veterans will have opportunities to learn new job skill and engage in hands on training. Other supportive services include outreach, case management, assistance in obtaining VA benefits, and help in accessing and coordinating other public benefits.
The Institute will have retail business incubator space to be used by veterans to learn about how to be an entrepreneur or new workforce development skills in an environment where things are grown, restored, and made. A place for veterans to interact and produce, where the DIY (do it yourself) spirit reigns. It will be the crossroads of interaction, where “trading trades” takes root and becomes the center to cultivate teaching and learning in an apprenticeship culture.
Each year, our new facility will serve as a food distribution site for drop off and pick up providing thousands of meals to our community through our Food Pantry and much-needed essential items through our Donation Center. Items range from clothing to hygiene products and more.
Agri-Trade Institute is a multi-floor facility complete with common spaces where our long-term residents can enjoy meals, do daily agriculture, and safely gather for community. Our common spaces have plant infusions, smart technology, furniture, tables and chairs, and decor that inspires hope and encourages healing.
Safety is of the utmost importance to us. This investment is key and will ensure that our building is secure for every veteran and their families that are living with us. Our Program residents are often overcoming past traumas and challenges. We need to give them a safe space where they can find hope and healing.
We will serve 15-25 veterans at a time, on average, through our urban sustainable agriculture program. This space will provide a place for veterans to enjoy being a gardener and will help them emotionally heal from the trauma that so many of them have experienced. Our roof garden will be complete with raised garden beds, green house, and apiary. Every veteran that comes into our housing program is also provided a Home Garden, book, and new suit/dress.
As important as respecting the dignity and story of each person we serve is creating outdoor space for our program participants and overnight guests. Green spaces promote mental, physical, and spiritual health.
Our Institute building will have 12 individual 1 bedroom housing units for our veteran residents in addition to our satellite housing building that will have 6 individual bedrooms for our veteran residents and emergency shelter guests. That means 18 veterans are off the streets every night seeking life-changing divine healing by rapidly re-housing homeless Veteran families and prevent homelessness for those at imminent risk due to a housing crisis. Every bedroom needs bedding and furnishings.
We will have a root cellar that residents can use for storage of vegetables, fruits, nuts, or other foods grown, restored, and made.