US Bancorp Impact Finance has invested more than $20 million in the St. Michael’s project, which provides housing for disabled and/or formerly homeless military personnel
Ozy McDaniel is from Kansas City, but the United States Marine Corps took him to many places from 1977 to 1985. He joined the Marines because his father and uncles served in the military, but it wasn’t until later that McDaniel realized the impact or meaning it would have on his life.
“The longer I stayed there and saw what it had to offer, I realized it served a greater purpose than I could have imagined,” he said. “It meant a lot to serve this country, and I would do it again if I had to.”
McDaniel is one of about 125 formerly homeless and/or disabled vets and their families calling St. Michael’s Veterans Center At home. He moved five years ago to Kansas City, Missouri, a 117-unit affordable housing project.
McDaniel is one of many residents who work at the local coffee shop, where residents gather every morning.
“The stories people share here are my favorite,” he said. ‘I’ve discovered that most people here look like me. It’s good for me to be around them and it’s nice to stay.”
The American Bancorp Impact Finance has been involved with St. Michael’s from the beginning. Impact Finance contributed more than $20 million in equity for the first and second phases. Construction on phase three will start in early 2024 and will consist of a further 62 units, including one and two-bedroom apartments.
“St. Michael’s is a special place,” said Lynn Craghead, who heads the affordable housing project management team for Impact Finance and lives in Kansas City. “It offers the right mix of activity and rest that is needed for the veterans who live there. We have been an equity investor in the campus since 2013 and it has been a privilege to be part of the impact the center is making on our local veterans and their families.”
Since 2013, Impact Finance has supported a range of housing for veterans across the country, totaling more than 3,600 units, and $575 million in equity and $588 million in debt in the form of investments.
According to Susan Engel, director of the center, there are typically 50 to 100 people on the waiting list. She is one of many who are excited about the next phase to expand their reach.
On a warm but windy November day, Engel walked around campus and visited McDaniel and several other residents who were helping at the coffee shop or with a monthly mobile food pantry.
Resident Frank Locknar, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1972 to 1976, said he looks forward to giving back through the pantry. Produce and other goods are provided by a regional food bank, and for those who cannot pick up the produce themselves, Locknar will deliver it to their room.
“It forces me to be with people and help some of the residents who need it,” he said.
Locknar emphasized how much he loves St. Michael’s.
“I think this is the happiest I’ve ever been,” he said. “This is a lifesaver. I am blessed to be here.”