Final Salute's mission is simple - to provide women homeless veterans and their children a place off of the street where they can put their lives back together. Now, without emergency funding, the home may stay vacant.The charity was founded in 2010 by Jas Boothe, a Major in the Army Reserves who found herself homeless after Hurricane Katrina ripped apart the house where she and her son had been living. To add insult to injury, she was diagnosed with an aggressive head, neck and throat cancer one month later, and had to undergo extensive treatments in order to stay alive and provide for her family. This experience left her homeless and sleeping on her aunt's couch. She then learned there were no services specifically geared toward woman veterans with children, so she decided to make one.[caption id="attachment_11313" align="aligncenter" width="800"]
Final Salute's mission is to provide female veterans and their children a place to stay while they get back on their feet. (Courtesy)[/caption]She houses her charity in a 9,000 square foot, 3 story home that she originally was renting from the Robert Pierre Johnson (RPJ) Housing Development Corporation. It remains the only transitional home for homeless women veterans and their children in the DC Metro Area, and has also supported women veterans from across the nation. But in 2013, she suddenly discovered that the home had fallen into foreclosure due to non-payment of mortgage from RPJ Housing; she was forced to bid on it at auction just a month later, knowing that if she lost, all the veterans she was housing would be homeless once more. Another aggressive bidder drove up the price to 450,000 dollars, but in the end, she prevailed and managed to raise the money to keep the charity operational, with the help of a generous donation from Karen Ruth Keesling Trust.
An Unpleasant Surprise
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During renovations, it was discovered that there were numerous zoning and code issues with the home. (Courtesy)[/caption]Now the owners of the home, Final Salute now has the task of getting the home properly zoned and renovated for a group housekeeping unit, which included transforming the home from a 7 bedroom, 5 bath home into an 8 bedroom, 8 bathroom facility with a resident manager suite. But when workers began the construction process, they discovered some additional structural, zoning and permitting issues that they had not planned for. Our research uncovered a draw-dropping discovery that the home these women veterans and children occupy, previously had numerous zoning and building code issues stemming from forgery by the previous owners, RPJ Housing; Final Salute is left holding the bag. All of which must be updated in order to complete the renovation, and comes with unexpected costs.The home now stands, gutted, without the funds to complete the structural changes needed.Final Salute has released an official statement regarding their current situation:
Until we complete the renovation and get the home up to code, we are unable to re-open and house homeless women veterans and their children. Women veterans are currently the fastest growing homeless population in America... This home has supported women veterans who were living in their cars, fleeing domestic violence visitations, sleeping from couch to couch and others who have struggled to find employment after transitioning from the military. This home has also allowed women veterans the opportunity to get their children back, whom they lost while homeless. Some women veterans even leave our transitional home and become homeowners themselves.
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Without the funds to complete the home, the house will stand vacant, and the veterans that it housed won't be able to return. (Courtesy)[/caption]Final Salute is currently trying to raise $150,000 dollars through their "Bricks of Hope" campaign, in order to cover the additional structural changes and extended temporary housing for their current residents. For every $25 donated, one brick is added to the home, and a woman and her children are housed for a day. But the more time that passes, the more money they'll need to keep these homeless veterans off of the street and in a place where they can get back on track.