Purple Heart Homes Welcome Veterans to South Euclid

One of the great challenges of American society is the lack of support for veterans of our armed forces, including a shortage of quality, affordable housing. That’s especially true for those who return from war with disabilities-and the Cuyahoga Land Bank has partnered with the City of South Euclid and Purple Heart Homes to do something about it.PHH_South_Euclid_Banner
Purple Heart Homes was founded by two Army veterans, John Gallina and Dale Beatty, who were severely injured while fighting together in Iraq. Beatty lost both legs below the knees. Gallina rallied their community of Statesville, North Carolina to build Beatty a new, accessible home-a project that both men found so rewarding, they started a non-profit organization to remodel and build homes for other disabled vets across the country. This fall, veterans will be living in two remodeled Purple Heart homes in South Euclid.
“Veterans who have served our country and have put their lives on the line for our freedoms deserve to have an opportunity for affordable housing,” said Cuyahoga Land Bank President Gus Frangos. “The Land Bank has investigated various organizations which have a passion for our veterans. One such group is Purple Heart Homes, which is run by veterans and was established by them specifically to enlist the services, support and help of the community to find homes to make available.”
Cleveland Heights resident Howard Goldberg brought Purple Heart Homes to the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s attention and a collaboration developed: Mayor Georgine Welo of South Euclid worked with the Land Bank to identify and acquire two houses-the first Purple Heart Homes in Northeast Ohio. The properties were transferred to the Cuyahoga Land Bank, who sold them to Purple Heart Homes for $1 each so that all funds raised would be used in rehabbing the houses, fitting them with ramps, wide doorways to accommodate wheelchairs, roll-in showers and other accessibility features. Goldberg, a Purple Heart Homes volunteer, helped with the property transfer.
One impressive aspect of Purple Heart Homes is their customization of each home for the veteran who will live in it. Before work is finished on the South Euclid homes, veteran-homeowners will be selected by Purple Heart Homes so that the final touches will be tailored to their specific personal needs. South Euclid and the Cuyahoga Land Bank are not the only ones who’ve been impressed by the organization’s work; Purple Heart Homes was the subject of an ABC Nightline Primetime report, a Time magazine cover story and other national news coverage.
“We embrace having Purple Heart Homes in South Euclid,” said Sally Martin, Housing Director for the City, “and we’ll rely on volunteers from community groups to make the homes special. It’s about giving the veterans a real welcome home. There’s already been so much support; we all want to see all the veterans succeed.”
In John Gallina’s view, Northeast Ohio had all the necessary ingredients in place for a smooth launch in this region. “The elected officials are willing to pool their resources and you have effective service organizations,” Gallina said. “The community recognizes the need to provide good homes for veterans and to make their lives a little better.”
“We really hope these two homes in South Euclid lead to more,” he adds. “We’ve seen the true spirit of our mission in Northeast Ohio. You can build a house anywhere, but when the entire community builds it, it’s different. It says, “We appreciate and value you, and we want you to be here.'”

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