In the community

Construction starts soon on Ontario complex to provide homes for veterans

ONTARIO – A La Grande developer plans to build 15 cottages for veterans on a lot near Albertsons this spring.

Gust Tsiatsos, of Malheur County Veterans Village LLC., said last week he hopes to begin construction on the $3.1 million project within 60 days.

“We are basically preparing to start with erosion control planning and I am getting utility companies lined up,” he said.

The homes with one or two bedrooms will be about two acres at the corner of Southwest 8th Avenue and Alameda Drive, he said. The homes will be rented.

The project is a collaborative effort between Malheur County Veterans Village, the Housing Authority of Malheur & Harney County and the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department.

Tsiatsos also owns GCT Land Management in La Grande and he said his firm already built one subdivision of 15 cottage homes for veterans in La Grande is nearly finished with a second project in Baker City.

“The veteran population is a really good fit for this type of housing,” he said.

Tsiatsos said his company began building houses more than 20 years ago but wanted to find a method “to move the needle” in rural communities. He said helping veterans seemed like a “good fit.”

“We wanted to find other ways we can be more effective in the housing world,” he said.

Tsiatsos said building small houses for veterans has been rewarding.

“It’s serving a population of people who need served,” he said.

Geared to serve low-income or homeless veterans, those interested in the cottages go through the Housing Authority of Malheur & Harney County to get on a waiting list, said Kristy Rodriguez, executive director.

“All they need to do is come into the office or go online and we’ll have the application,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said the veterans must meet certain qualifications, including income limits, to be considered. The housing authority will manage the cottages.

Rodriguez said the development is needed.

“We have quite a few veterans in the area in need of housing. So I think it’s fantastic and I’m excited to have this project come alive,” said Rodriguez.

Dan Cummings, Ontario city manager, said he approved the conceptual plan for the building project.

He said the project does not require any type of zoning change.

“Sewer and water and streets and building layouts designs are about 75% done,” he said.

Cummings said plans call for a community service building to provide a range of services to veterans.

The veteran housing project is important, said Ron Verini, chairman of Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida.

He said the veterans village will give those who served “pretty much a location that they can feel comfortable in.”

Verini also serves on the board of Community in Action and said the organization would provide services to those in the Ontario complex.

“We will be actively involved somehow and so will Veterans Advocate of Ore-Ida,” he said.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]