Hanover — Project VetCare, an organization dedicated to helping New Hampshire veterans, purchased a house on Lebanon Street on June 9. The house will be dedicated to housing undergraduate veterans at Dartmouth College.
“It’s a phenomenal accomplishment for an organization this young,” said Robert Chambers, co-founder and chairman of Project VetCare. “We’re only two years old.”
An anonymous donor provided most of the money to purchase the $475,000 house, which Project Vet Care now owns without a mortgage. According to Chambers, the veterans who rent the house’s $800 rooms will be providing a sustainable source of income for Project VetCare.
James Wright, Dartmouth’s former president, made providing education to veterans a priority during his tenure. He founded an educational counseling program for wounded veterans and worked on the GI Bill that was signed into law by President Bush in 2008. He was one of the main donors to the Project VetCare house.
During the 2013-2014 academic year, 18 veterans attended Dartmouth. Chambers hopes that this house, located half a mile off campus, will provide a more comfortable living space for veterans, who are often older and more mature than their classmates. Hanover has a maximum occupancy ordinance, which stipulates that no more than three unrelated people may live in a residence. Project VetCare plans to apply for a variance.
“Up to six people could potentially live here,” Chambers said. “Financially, it still makes sense only with three, so we will begin renting rooms in September. But we’d like to be able to house more.”
A downstairs room in the house will likely be used as office space for Project VetCare. The house will also be used as a meeting space for other veterans in the community.
The house, at 80 Lebanon St., was originally built in 1907. Chambers said Project VetCare may apply to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But because the house is so old it requires some work before veterans will be able to move in this fall.
“We have about 19 missing light bulbs, a sloping porch and broken steps,” Chambers said. “We have to fix all that, and do some painting.”
On Wednesday, volunteers from Hypertherm were at the house to help make it ready for September. Hypertherm employees can use their paid time off for community service work, and people were scattered around the house, pulling weeds and painting walls and ceilings.
“We have a volunteer who’s working with the old steam boiler in the basement,” Chambers said. “And we have a donor who has offered to furnish all of the bedrooms. It’s amazing how people have come together to make this work.”