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About Town: Former training center to house homeless veterans
 
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Built in 1962, the 22,000-square-foot training center comes complete with an armory, a gym and a pressurized diving chamber where the marines once practiced underwater drills. (Courtesy Alpha Omega Veterans Services)
 

Built in 1962, the 22,000-square-foot training center comes complete with an armory, a gym and a pressurized diving chamber where the marines once practiced underwater drills. (Courtesy Alpha Omega Veterans Services)

Welcome to About Town, where we take a deeper dive into one neighborhood each week while also highlighting the latest news, developments and back stories from Memphis’ neighborhoods. This week’s focus: The Heights. 

Last week, officials from Alpha Omega Veterans Services announced the acquisition of the former Marine Corps Reserve Center at 3114 Jackson Ave., which will soon be repurposed to provide support and housing for at least 24 homeless veterans in the region.

The organization was given the former training center through a federal grant by the U.S. General Services Administration.

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Rob Moore: Former Marine Corps training center will provide housing to veterans in need


“I think them being a service for veterans probably helped them get that bid,” said Rob Moore, business reporter for The Daily Memphian who wrote about the redevelopment.

In 2021, 40,000 veterans in the U.S. obtained housing in Veterans Health Administration homeless programs. 

As of January 2020, in Tennessee, there were around 570 veterans experiencing homelessness, as reported by Continuums of Care to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


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“We think that we’re privileged to live in a county or a region that has relatively affordable cost of living, but I think that people would be surprised to see how many people struggle with homelessness or really just how few steps away people are from actually becoming homeless,” Moore said. “But I think the services are great for veterans, and I think everyone should be extended those privileges.” 

 

PZ Horton III, Alpha Omega chairman, shows off blueprints for the planned renovations of the former Marine Corps Reserve Center at 3114 Jackson Ave. (Brad Vest/Special to The Daily Memphian file)

Built in 1962, the former 22,000-square-foot training center was outfitted with offices, armory, a gym and a pressurized diving chamber. Much of that will go away with the renovation to make room for at least 24 residential units, office and storage space, computer lab, wardrobe room, library and classrooms. 

The center sits on 6.4 acres of land, providing the organization the opportunity for possible future growth. 

Moore got a sneak peak of the premises and said the space looked like it could have easily been converted to office spaces. 

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“I think it’s awesome that it’s not just going to be an office building,” Moore said. “It’s going to have a bit more of a purpose.”

During the pandemic, veterans participating in the 60-day to two-year temporary housing program have stayed in hotels, posing an inconvenience to both tenants and staff members.

Not only will the new center provide more stable housing, it will provide additional storage for the many donations Alpha Omega receives. The extra storage space was desperately needed despite the organization’s five other locations.

Currently, Alpha Omega houses 107 veterans. 

Construction for the new center is due to begin during the spring. 

 
 
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