Sacramento County, Calif., which contains Rancho Cordova (pop. 73,000), had 3,665 homeless veterans in 2017, per California State University data. Located on the former Mather Air Force Base, the Mather Veterans Village (MVV) seeks to lower that number by giving homeless veterans and veterans with disabilities permanent supportive housing.

Four partners — Rancho Cordova, Sacramento County, Mercy Housing California and Veterans Resource Centers of America (VRC) — planned the three-phase MVV from 2006 to 2014, beginning construction on Phase I in 2014. City, county, state, federal and private sources have helped fund the entire $51.5 million project.

Completed in August 2016, Phase I comprises 44 one-bedroom and 6 two-bedroom permanent supportive homes alongside meeting rooms, support staff offices, community rooms, a computer lab and laundry facilities. Fifty veterans and their families live in MVV Phase I, and VRC provides these veterans with a variety of support services.

Phase II will consist of a 46-bed transitional housing program and other supportive services, and Phase III will provide 50 more residents with permanent supportive housing. These two phases are expected to be finished in 2018 and 2019, and the entire village will operate for 55 years. 

“These veterans are using an area of the air force base that was formerly just land, it was just vacant. It’s now this bustling, vibrant community,” says Maria Kniestedt, Rancho Cordova public affairs director. “When our [then-mayor David Sander] was there, he welcomed them. He [said], ‘Welcome to the neighborhood!’ And truly, that is how it feels.”