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Take Flight at March Veterans Village

Transitional housing project, March Veterans Village, brings affordability and services to U.S. veterans

By Hanna Heiss

Founded by chairman Art Danielian, Danielian Associates Architecture + Planning’s firm launched in 1968. With a shared passion for design, those at Danielian Associates work as a team to bring each project to life under their core values of ingenuity, integrity, collaboration, responsiveness, passion and excellence. These values are truly exhibited through one key project: March Veterans Village.

Located adjacent to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, Calif., March Veterans Village provides housing to homeless and/or at-risk veterans alongside a transitional program made up of counseling, support services and training for individuals and families. This multifamily, transitional housing project was done in collaboration with the U.S. Vets Initiative and the Coachella Valley Housing Authority whom approached Danielian Associates to join the venture as the architect, to which they jumped at the opportunity to design the much needed housing and supportive services campus that it came to be.

The U.S. Vets – Inland Empire began providing services to veterans in October 2003 out of the former barracks of March Air Reserve Base. For almost two decades now, U.S. Vets has aided the homeless and at-risk veteran populations in the California Counties of Riverside and San Bernardino. They are part of the largest non-profit provider of housing, counseling, case management and career services.

March Veterans Village’s “design ideology was derived from its contextual relationship to the historic March Air Reserve Base – in recognition of service and patriotism alongside a symbolic nod to rebirth and flight,” said Louis Bretana, Associate and Senior Designer at Danielian Associates in a press release. 

Architectural elements that celebrate “aviation have been incorporated throughout to evoke an image of ‘taking flight’ while paying homage to its location,” said Louis Bretana, Director of Design, Danielian Associates.

Initial project plans were discussed back in 2010, however groundbreaking didn’t take place until 2016 due to funding challenges. The project was made possible with the March Joint Powers Authority’s integral efforts in obtaining the land necessary to build the housing.

Along with acquiring a LEED Gold certification, the project was also designed with advanced framing techniques, exceeding T-24, high performance fenestration, abundant daylight and operable windows, high efficacy and LED lighting, low-flow water usage fixtures and a waste management and recycling plan that reduces construction waste by a minimum of 50%. As for the exterior, the landscape was designed to reduce water usage with low-flow irrigation to maximize water savings and with California native and drought tolerant plants.

While average rents in the area range from $2,145 for a one-bedroom to $3,500 for a two-bedroom, the units at March Veterans Village are priced rather affordably, with rent prices ranging from $462 to $847 for a studio, $660 to $990 for a one-bedroom and $792 to $1,018 for a two-bedroom. There are many different floor plans offered in size ranges designed to fit specific needs of U.S. Veterans.

March Veterans Village offers transitional housing for veterans located at March Air Reserve Base. Planned to be a walkable community, the complex was designed to have a campus-like setting, which aims to provide a nurturing, rehabilitative environment. Providing housing, meals and career training counseling for veterans, the program makes transition back into civilian life as smooth as possible.

The housing component consists of three different programs: the VIP (Veterans in Progress), providing short-term dorm style housing with on-site counseling for veterans at high-risk; the Efficiency program, supplying single-room occupancy units for veterans being re-trained to enter the workforce or for those who have found work but are in need of low-cost housing; the third program, accommodating families of veterans who are also in need of low-cost housing.

There is very much a need for this type of housing as it is of critical importance, especially within Riverside County. The Housing Authority of the County of Riverside recently conducted an assessment of the community needs and strategies for addressing homelessness among veterans. During the evaluation of the current homeless veteran population, veterans at risk of becoming homeless and the existing housing resources available for veterans, it was found that the county ranks in the top 10 percent nationally for its homeless veteran population with 1,961 veterans currently waiting for County of Riverside Housing Assistance.

Alongside the completion of Phase I of March Veterans Village and the ground breaking of Phase 2 in early 2020, various projects are on the boards at Danielian Associates. A few of the projects are: Oak Knoll, a master planned community made up of small-lot single family homes in Oakland, Calif.; Twin Lake Townhomes, an 80-unit luxury multifamily project located in Lekki, Nigeria; Park Ave 212, located in Loma Linda, Calif., won Best 55+ Active Adult Market Rate Rental Community “On The Boards” at the 2021 SAGE Awards.

Hanna Heiss is Editor of Green Home Builder Magazine. She can be reached at hanna@builder.media.