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Alan Forrester and Bob Moffa
East County Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010 7 years ago

American Ideals launches housing program for vets

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

MANATEE COUNTY — Internationally acclaimed composer and pianist Robert Moffa was thrown off-guard when a physician at a veterans hospital said he was tired of being a real estate agent.

Many of the families and veterans seeking treatment at the doctor’s facility needed a place to stay during treatments. As a proponent of veterans’ causes through his non-profit, the American Ideals Foundation, Moffa took the lament to heart.

Now, the foundation is joining forces with a local real estate company, Cityscapes, and East County homebuilder, Neal Communities, to help provide housing to military veterans and their families.

“We’re working with veterans communities all around the United States to draw them to this area, and we’re drawing them to Neal properties,” Moffa said.

Through the partnership with Neal and Cityscapes, veterans using the American Ideals Foundations’ services will receive a special VIP card. If they choose to purchase a Neal Communities’ home, it triggers involvement of the foundation and earns them gifts from the foundation and Cityscapes, such as a plaque in the Veterans Memorial park in San Marco Plaza or possibly a vacation package.

The foundation also will work with veterans to help them secure veterans mortgages, and for disabled vets, a series of grants the federal government offers to help them adapt their home to their needs, such as modifying a home for a wheelchair.

“A veteran working with the builder can adapt his home (from the beginning),” Moffa said. “This is big for veterans.”

But a more long-term vision, which is called the Homes for Heroes program, is one Moffa hopes to recreate at locations around the country. The program’s pilot veterans community is currently under planning in Ellenton — Veterans Village at Cypress Pond Estates. The American Ideals Foundation is seeking investor support of about $2.3 million to purchase and prepare the land, which is about a mile south of Southeastern Guide Dogs.

Homes on the 17.7-acre site will range in size from 1,030 to 1,500 square feet and cost between $115,000 and $150,000.

“If you are in the military — no matter what part of the service — there’s a connection there,” said Alan Forrester, the Realtor associate with Cityscapes who is working on the project.

A site plan for the project already exists.

“All that needs to be done is a permit pulled and construction started,” Forrester said.

The Cypress Ponds project is the first of its kind, and Moffa said he hopes to create other veterans villages across the United States. Properties in Arizona, Texas, Alabama and Florida, for example — and even one in the East County — already have been identified as potential locations for veterans villages.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

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