City Retrofits Foreclosed Homes to Help Wounded Veterans
Volunteers Needed to Complete City's First Home for Wounded Army Sergeant
A wounded Army sergeant who lost both legs below the knee during a 2013 tour of duty in Afghanistan will be the recipient of Palm Bay’s first home in the city’s “Homes for Warriors” program, a project by the city’s Housing and Neighborhood Development Services (HANDS) in partnership with the Space Coast Paratroopers Association, a non-profit group that helps local veterans. The city purchased the home through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) which uses federal grant funds to purchase foreclosed homes, refurbish them and find new owners. Through Operation “Homes for Warriors”, additional homes will be purchased, renovated and given to wounded veterans identified through the Space Coast Paratroopers Association.
Sgt. Justin Burdette, his wife Beth and 4-year-old son, Corey will be the first recipients and are scheduled to take possession of their home on August 1st. The 1940-sq. foot home on Crosspoint St. SE is currently being renovated in order to accommodate Sgt. Burdette’s needs. A majority of the contracting work such as painting, plumbing, electrical wiring, and other work and supplies, is being donated by local businesses and the labor is being done by volunteers. “This truly is a labor of love and it’s the right thing to do,” said Bob Williams, who is serving as the project coordinator. “These men and women who have served our country have more than paid the price and this is the very least we can do to welcome them home.”
Sgt. Burdette of the 3rd Infantry Division, 4th Brigade, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment (4 BDE 3-15 IN, 3rd ID) out of Fort Stewart, Ga. was wounded on June 9, 2013 when he and his 7-member unit were protecting a convoy in Afghanistan. Sgt. Burdette was critically wounded when a rocket landed near him causing both his legs to be amputated below the knee. He is currently undergoing rehab at Walter Reed Military National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Sgt. Burdette is a 2005 graduate of Palm Bay High School.
Through the NSP, 48 homes were purchased and resold since the program began in 2008. Funds received from the re-sales are now being reallocated for the Homes for Warriors program. There are currently three homes where renovations are underway for the qualifying wounded veterans already identified. “It’s not just for the veterans, it’s for the community to understand what these guys have been through,” said David Isnardi, vice chairman of the Space Coast Paratroopers Association. “We’re bringing these guys home and we’re doing everything we can to give them a hand up. We only have a few shots at doing things right in our lifetime and we want to get this right.”The program is currently in need of volunteers to assist with the renovations and to donate supplies. The following items are needed:
- Stainless steel kitchen sinks
- Kitchen Faucets
- 5 interior fans with light kits, 1 exterior fan with light kit
- 2 toilets
- Various grab bars for bathrooms
- Bathroom vanity with faucets
- 40-gallon hot water heaters
- Tile for tub and walk-in shower
- Shower seat (fold down preferred)
- Assorted interior light fixtures
- Flowers/trees/shrubs, any and all landscaping including mulch
- Privacy fencing
- Mailboxes and house numbers
- Paint brushes/rollers/pans/rags, etc.
- Water/Gatorade (for volunteers) and extra coolers for ice
Anyone interested in participating or for more information, please contact Bob Williams at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 321-733-3042.