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St. Michael's Veterans Center resident understands need for affordable housing

Ozy McDaniel Jr. explains how SMVC has changed his life.
Posted at 6:27 PM, May 28, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — St. Michael's Veterans Center (SMVC) is preparing to break ground on the third phase of a project that began over 10 years ago.

The campus will add over 60 units, bringing the total of affordable apartments there to over 170.

Marine veteran Ozy McDaniel Jr. is one of those residents. He moved into a unit in 2018.

The move led to a job at the center's coffee shop, which allowed him to work on his anger issues and PTSD.

McDaniel said he's proud to serve his safe space.

"It is fulfilling for me to come down here and serve my fellow veterans," McDaniel said. "People need a place to call home, to feel safe, to lay your head down and not worry about anything."

Ozy McDaniel Jr., a Marine Veteran

SMVC gave him stability. Now, McDaniel hopes the new units, scheduled to be finished at the end of 2025, will do the same for other veterans.

Susan Engel, executive director of SMVC, said veteran homelessness is a serious problem in Kansas City, which is why the center offers permanent housing and a range of services to help veterans reclaim their lives.

"Affordable housing is important," Engel said. "Without a place to live, nothing else is possible."

But growing the SMVC community takes more than just expanding the campus.

"So we really want people to come out, come to the coffee shop that’s open every morning and visit with other people, build relationships, grill food at night," Engel said.

Susan Engel, Executive Director of St. Michael's Veteran's Center

Engel believes veteran homelessness will be a challenge Kansas City always faces, but she hopes the additional units provide an opportunity for more veterans to receive the care they deserve.

"This is home," McDaniel said. "This is our community, and I love it."