The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced a $24 million grant to help fund renovations at the Iowa Veterans Home Tuesday.
The grant is a match grant that splits the cost of overhauling resident housing between state and federal tax dollars. The $24 million grant is 65 percent of the $36.9 million construction. The remaining money comes from the state, which the Iowa Legislature previously approved once federal money became available.
Construction is already underway on the first of three phases that will provide 249 rooms to the home's residents, said Commandant David Worley. The goal, he said, is to get all the residents into rooms with single beds.
T-R PHOTO BY DAVID ALEXANDER
Construction workers gut the north tower of the Dack building Tuesday afternoon. A $24 million grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs — announced Tuesday — helped fund the project, which will add 249 single-bed rooms.
"It's centered around the residents and the needs of individual residents," he said. "When your family comes to visit, you will be able to visit in your room because you won't have a roommate."
Last year, with the completion of the new Fox and Ulery buildings, 63 residents moved into single-bed rooms. State and federal taxes also funded that project, which cost $45 million.
Cecil Graham, 81, has lived in the new Fox building for the past year.
"Everything over here is great," he said. "I've got a beautiful view It makes you feel a lot better."
Although the new building is far from perfect - it's a little far from the other buildings and has too much carpet for people in wheelchairs such as himself - it is far better than where he used to live in 4 South, Graham said.
The rooms in the renovated Dack and Malloy buildings will be similar to those in the Fox building. They will have their own bathrooms and 32-inch high definition TVs, Worley said. Of the 249 new rooms, 20 will be couple's rooms.
Staff moved residents out of the north tower of the Dack building roughly three weeks ago, Worley said. Once complete, IVH staff will move the residents in the south tower of Dack into the north tower and renovate the south tower. Then, with Dack complete, construction crews will begin work on the Malloy building.
Each phase of the project will take roughly a year, Worley said.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, issued a press release lauding the grant, saying the money will go a long way, providing resources and assistance to veterans.
IVH has already submitted a grant proposal to build another 70 to 75-bed building on the west side of its campus, Worley said. However, although the federal government gives preference to renovations that put residents in single-bed rooms, it shies away from adding buildings to homes that already meet the requisite number of beds based on population. With 578 beds, IVH already meets the needs of a community Marshalltown's size, Worley said.
Calls to the U.S. and Iowa Departments of Veterans Affairs went unreturned at press time.