Rockland Homes for Heroes [RH4H] is a New York State 501[c]Not-For-Profit Charity chartered to build and operate homes for the homeless, in our case, honorary discharged homeless veterans.
Our Mission is to help end veteran homelessness in the Hudson Valley Counties of Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, Duchess, Putnam & Westchester. These are the same Counties served by the Veterans Administration Hudson Valley Health Care System [Montrose] in the #3 Veteran Integrated Service Network [VISN #3] of the VA.
RH4H came into being when the Federal Government declared surplus the last parcel of the 2,000+ acre iconic historical “Last Stop USA – Camp Shanks”, the world’s largest WWII Port of Embarkation/Staging Area. It was created in 1943, in the historic Hamlet of Tappan, Town of Orangetown, and County of Rockland. It made legendary world history with a capital “H”. Over 1.3 million GIs from all over the USA passed through Shanks to be processed to cross the Atlantic Ocean to fight the Nazi army from D-Day on the Normandy beaches of France to D-Day in Berlin. Many never to return home!
In 1946, the Camp was closed and the property was put to use for many manifestations of veteran housing, which included 300 homes for Rockland veterans, until 1956, at which time the land was sold with one exception.
Approximately 14 acres were kept by the Army, which used it for the Cold War NIKE Missile Program and other Army uses. In 2009, the Federal Government declared the l14 acre surplus and available to any Not-For-Profit charity which would use it by Federal Law to serve the homeless or be used for medical purposes or for an animal shelter.
Many agencies from all over the State exhibited interest, because, as Federal land, the Orangetown Zoning & building codes were not applicable or binding. An agency could build from curb to curb as high as they choose.
RH4H held to the belief that Camp Shanks is sacred land.
Furthermore, RH4H wanted anything to be built be built in compliance with the Town’s criteria.
Furthermore, as a Marine Corps veteran with decades [44 years] as a Rockland County Legislator, I knew the curse and horror of homelessness and what to do about it, I acted. I co-founded RH4H, which submitted an application to lease the property which was approved.
RH4H immediately proceeded to build 8 Supported Apartments, which by every measurement and test, is a success story in changing and saving lives in a fiscally prudent and responsible manner [no debts] and earning the approval of our neighbors and our Federal Government.
I had previously co-founded Loeb House, Inc. in 1982 as a NYS 501[c]3 Not-For-Profit Charity for the purpose of providing community housing/homes for our mentally ill population. It has an impeccable reputation after more than 25+ years of success. It is Rockland County’s largest provider/operator of community beds for the mentally ill. Ergo, RH4H decided not to hire a salaried staff and instead partnered /contracted with Loeb House to exploit its experienced expertise in both special needs housing management and Case Management. It immediately secured the necessary funding for rent subsidiesManagement & Case. RH4H pays Loeb House a modest fair fee for providing all administrative functions in its office at One Blue Hill Plaza in Pearl River. It’s a very successful partnership. It has avoided duplication of effort and resulted in cost savings.
RH4H is managed by an unpaid volunteer 7 member Board of Directors, which includes 5 veterans, and oversees the overall operation in addition to all the fund raising and property management.
As a result of this excellent management , RH4H was rewarded with the opportunity to convert our lease to an ownership Deed.
As evidence of our commitment to our community, RH4H had 7 of the 14 acres transferred to the Town of Orangetown to build a surface storm water retention facility to prevent the flooding of the iconic Sparkill Creek.
Now RH4H has embarked on a very worthy initiative to add 14 more Supported Apartments for homeless veterans. Loeb House has again already secured the funding for rent subsidies and Case Management.
To finance the construction of the 14 units, over $4,000,000+ will be required. Most of the construction costs funding will be secured via the world of the New York State office of Temporary & Disability Assistance/Homeless Housing & Assistance Program, not HUD.
Another $600,000 must be raised from contributions. We have already raised half of the money from a community which has passionately embraced our mission. We have been blessed by so many individuals, families, community organizations such as the Girl & Boy Scouts, our local American Legions and our local businesses such at the Hudson Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Dealership & O&R, which contribute their money and labor. Many have made it their business to bring meals and gifts to the resident veterans on every major Holiday. The Orangetown Government has also risen to the occasion.
RH4H has generated and witnessed a tsunami of patriotism, compassion, kindness for our veterans. Our veterans are not forgotten in Rockland.
We are half way to starting the construction and are reaching out for contributions of money, labor, goods and prayers for our success in helping to end veteran homelessness in the Hudson Valley. We know how to change and save lives [every day of the year, a veteran commits suicide].
We hope to consecrate our housing as another living memorial in addition to the Camp Shanks Memorial & Park a very short walking distance from our front gate.
Please enlist in our mission.
P.S. Many many years ago, George Washington’s Continental Army fighting for our independence, camped on Western Highway in Tappan on what became a small parcel of Camp Shanks. It is destiny. This property was meant to provide homes for our military.