In November, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation—a nonprofit that offers housing and resources to veterans experiencing homelessness—opened its first Texas veterans housing community in north Houston, and organization leaders said they hope to expand their efforts across the state.

The impact

At least 35,000 veterans are experiencing homelessness nationwide, said Gavin Naples, vice president of the Foundation’s homeless veteran program. The north Houston-area Veterans Village—located at 18818 Hwy. 249—includes transitional and permanent housing for 131 veterans. The affordable apartments also include a floor dedicated to veteran services—provided through a partnership with U.S. Vets—such as employment assistance and behavioral health.

“Texas is one of the most pervasive states experiencing veteran homelessness, alongside California, obviously, and Florida,” Naples said. “So we wanted to make a real impact in Texas. We'll likely be doing other veterans villages throughout Texas as the years go on and we expand upon our program.”

Naples said that phase two of the north Houston-area Veterans Village—set to break ground in mid-August—will include:
  • 14 homes, measuring 500 square feet each, for senior veterans in need
  • Outdoor recreation facilities, including barbecue spots, added to the whole property
  • Landscaping and beautification of the property
The background

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation was formed by the family of Brooklyn firefighter Stephen Gerard Siller. Even though Siller had finished his shift on Sept. 1, 2001, he rushed to save people from the 9/11 terrorist attacks in Manhattan and died in the line of duty, Naples said.

“From that sacrifice, his brothers and sisters got around a kitchen table and said ‘We need to honor what he did,’” Naples said.

Diving in deeper

The foundation dedicates $0.95 of every dollar donated to its array of programs, according to the organization’s website. Other Tunnel to Towers’ programs include:
  • Mortgage-free accessible smart homes for veterans with catastrophic injury affecting their mobility
  • Mortgage-free homes to surviving spouses of veterans with young children
  • Mortgage payments for families with young children whose parents were first responders who died in the line of duty, or due to 9/1-related illness
  • Education, counseling and emergency assistance for young children who have lost at least one parent
  • A nationwide case management network for veterans struggling with homelessness to provide services to rural veterans
Stay tuned

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation is in the process of opening 12 more housing communities across the U.S. for veterans in need, Naples said.

“Quite the tall order, but what we're doing, in a very tight timeframe, is we're going throughout the nation to the largest metro areas where the rates of homelessness are highest,” Naples said.