Habitat for Humanity plans village for veterans in Leesburg

There are 54,000 veterans living in Lake and Sumter counties, which is why the non-profit Habitat for Humanity wants to build a village just for them.   Twenty-one homes for twenty-one veterans and their families.  But there are still a few hurdles to jump.

Right now, it's just an empty, two-acre lot at the corner of Canal and Cleveland in Leesburg, but if Lake-Sumter Habitat for Humanity gets its wish, the homes ranging from 800 feet to nearly 1,500 feet will be here in the next couple years.  Danielle Stroud, with Lake-Sumter Habitat for Humanity says, "We are going to be building homes for active military and their families and veterans."

Stroud says the purchase of the property is contingent upon getting it rezoned for development.  Habitat will go before Leesburg City commissioners next week.  They will also ask for impact fees to be waived, something Stroud says the county has not yet agreed to discuss. Stroud says, "Our veterans have given everything for us and we feel it's only right to give them this...everyone deserves a safe place and somewhere to call home."

Leesburg City Manager Al Minner says, "We have lots of Veterans that live in the community so I think overall the city will be very supportive of the project." 

Habitat for Humanity organizers hope to call the development something like the Veterans Village.   But like with all their projects, they are open to donations.   Anyone who wants to donate and have a say in the name is welcome.   

Veterans like David Booth say in the end, the name will not be nearly as significant as the cause.  Booth is the President and CEO of the nonprofit Combat Veterans to Careers, the group that plans to team up with Habitat on this project.   Booth says, "They build the homes and then we help with the transition after to help keep them in their homes with jobs, education, housing, transportation, life coaching."

The first city hearing on the rezoning of this land is November 19.