HUNTINGTON – Barry Holland has a simple, but profound way to describe his new home.
“This is just beautiful,” he said. “This is a beautiful thing.”
Originally from Beckley, Holland grew up in Cleveland before joining the U.S. Army in 1975. He spent a decade working with, as he says, “bombs and guns.”
After leaving the army, he would eventually make his way to Huntington. He was staying at a local veteran’s home when he learned of Huntington W.V. Area Habitat for Humanity’s Veterans Housing Initiative.
He made a few calls, started the paperwork and now he has a home of his own. Located on the 900 block of 14th Street, the tidy, one-story residence features a combined living, dining and kitchen area, a large bathroom and a spacious bedroom with a large, walk-in closet.
“I just love it here. This is beautiful,” he said. “God is good.”
The Veterans Housing Initiative builds homes for U.S. veterans. The program fills a vital need for those who have served our country. According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, an estimated 2.5 million veterans-headed households are at least 55 years of age. Of those 2.5 million veterans, 24 percent have housing cost burdens. Unlike older civilians, older veterans are more likely to have a disability — 35 percent versus 28 percent — which may require home modifications, health and other supportive services as they age.
Holland, 62, walks with a limp. He said his home was designed in such a way that it allows him to get around more easily and he can place a ramp on the front steps to better maneuver his motorized wheelchair in and out of the front door.
“Once I’ll get a ramp up here I’ll be good,” he said.
Holland is also back in school. He’s pursuing a degree in information technology from Mountwest Community and Technical College. He even made the dean’s list last semester.
His home was funded, in part, through the Affordable Housing Fund, formerly known as the West Virginia Housing Trust Fund. The Affordable Housing Fund provides funding for both technical and housing assistance to non-profits and government entities and to encourage stronger partnerships, collaboration and greater involvement of local communities in meeting housing needs in the state.
The West Virginia Housing Development Fund began administering the program in June 2018.
“Barry, and countless other veterans, have sacrificed so much for this country,” said Erica Boggess, the Fund’s Executive Director. “We are proud to stand with him and all the organizations who made this project a reality.”
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony at his new home, Holland was presented with a framed, knitted piece from the Tri-Area Needle Arts Guild and an American flag from Woodman Life