Hero’s Bridge CEO and Founder, Molly Brooks, was interviewed for this piece in Rappahannock News. The Hero’s Bridge excerpt is copied below. Read the full article here.  

Fauquier | Hero’s Bridge Village: Solution or division?

In Warrenton, a senior housing proposal illustrates both the potential for creative housing solutions and the local discord it might ignite.

Hero’s Bridge Village is a proposed 44-unit affordable housing community for senior veterans. The housing plan arises from a nonprofit organization serving a specific audience– elderly veterans. The project requires zoning changes, and some neighbors are uneasy.

“My hope is that it can be a place of peace and healing, and an example to the county that thoughtful, meaningful housing can be done within a small footprint,” said Molly Brooks, founder and chief executive officer of Hero’s Bridge.

The proposed site plan for Hero’s Bridge Village in Warrenton.

The village — a collaboration between Hero’s Bridge and the Warrenton United Methodist Church — is planned for a  5.2 acre U-shaped lot, in a neighborhood of single family detached homes.

Hero’s Bridge would offer the senior veterans services, now difficult to deliver to older veterans who are dispersed and lacking transportation.

“I never expected that housing would be the number two issue we would get calls about,” Brooks said. But since the 1980s, more veterans have found themselves at risk of homelessness, and the current housing squeeze makes it worse.

“An entire generation of veterans are aging, it’s a difficult economy, and these are among the first people we should be welcoming and helping out,” said Warrenton Mayor Carter Nevill, a supporter of the project.

But the plan has proved divisive. In October, long before any public hearings were held, shouting broke out at a Warrenton Town Council meeting between residents opposed to the village and council member David McGuire, himself a veteran.

Some neighbors warned about traffic, density, property values and mental health problems veterans might have. At a Town Council meeting, Daryle Hawkins, a neighbor to the proposed village, demanded that  planners “find somewhere else.”

While 84 opponents of the project have petitioned the Town Council to reject the necessary rezoning, a counter-petition from supporters, garnered more than 500 signatures.

Brooks hopes the Warrenton Planning Commission will vote to approve the rezoning in June, and the Town Council in July.

Hero’s Bridge then would turn to funding the idea. It has raised $1.7 million, including a $1 million grant within the federal spending package passed earlier this year. Brooks estimated Hero’s Bridge needs another $12 million.

— Hunter Savery