New low-income veterans housing honors residents and those lost in Vietnam

The former Edison High School, now the Edison 64 Veterans Community.
Photo credit Paul Kurtz/KYW Newsradio
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A new housing development exclusively for low-income veterans is almost full, several months after opening on the site of the old Edison High School.

"This will be a space where a sense of community can be built," said Debby Derricks, of the Veterans Multi-Service Center, "where we can host programming surrounding such space within the veterans community itself."

Derricks was describing what some of the larger community rooms will look like after construction is complete at Edison 64 Veterans Community in the Fairhill section of Philadelphia. There's still a lot of work to do there. However, all 66 individual units are done and going fast, with only four vacancies remaining.

Harry Wilson was one of the early arrivals. He moved from a sketchy neighborhood in South Philly a few months ago. "I jumped on the opportunity and I'm really appreciative now because I feel like I'm so much at peace," he said.

The name of the facility, Edison 64, is a poignant tribute to the number of Edison High alumni who were killed in the Vietnam War, the highest casualty rate of any high school in the United States. Wilson said she hopes the builders will do more to remember those fallen.

"I think maybe a plaque or something to remember those veterans and to honor them, learn the history and the sacrifices that people made," Wilson added.

Derricks said the tenants will be honored with what she calls unparalleled service.  

"In most long-term housing or permanent housing you find out it's just residents, and often if they need services they're bussed elsewhere," she explained. "Here at Edison 64, we will have all services and staff operating on site, and that's what makes it unparalleled."  

Those services, said Derricks, will include job training and placement, and a robust calendar of events.