A community of veterans takes shape in downtown Salem

Tim Goodale, 28, an Army National Guard veteran, stands in his kitchen in his apartment at Courtney Place in downtown Salem on Thursday, April 11. Goodale was the first resident to move into the building, which is reserved for low-income veterans. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Tim Goodale has been playing catch-up for years.

The 28-year-old Army National Guard veteran ended his service right before the Covid pandemic. Since then, he’s struggled to pay rent and bounced around between friends’ apartments while working a mix of odd jobs.

Though he was never on the streets, Goodale also never had a home that felt like his.

“It was never like this is my place, this is my space,” he said.

Now, he has a two-bedroom apartment to himself.

Goodale was the first person to move into Courtney Place, an affordable veteran housing building that opened this month at 220 Cottage St. N.E.

Andrew Holbert, the executive director of Salem YMCA Veterans Housing, stands outside Courtney Place on April 11, 2024. Hobert manages services for veterans living in the 34-unit affordable apartment building. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

His face lit up as he pulled back the shades in his living room, revealing a view of the YMCA and downtown Salem.

“This is kind of my restart,” Goodale said.

Courtney Place has been a years-long effort from Salem YMCA leaders and cheerleaders. 

The project replaced the affordable apartment building that once sat next door to the old Salem YMCA prior to its demolition in 2019.

YMCA leaders pledged to replace that building with a new affordable housing project, and formed a separate nonprofit and board to oversee the effort.

The building bears the name of retired Senate President Peter Courtney, a longtime advocate for the YMCA. Courtney lived at the Y when he first arrived in Salem to be a judicial clerk in 1969.

Courtney Place opened in April after construction delays and pandemic challenges. The $10 million project has 34 apartments for veterans, with 1-bedrooms renting for $865 and two-bedrooms for $1,035. Construction was paid for mostly with state grants.

Residents can earn no more than $35,160 for a single person, or $50,220 for a family of four.

Courtney Place is intended to be much more than housing, said Andrew Holbert, executive director of the project, which is a nonprofit organization separate from the YMCA. He wants to build a community between veterans, helping them engage with one another through building events and partnerships with nearby churches and other services.

“If we offer them a community of 34 units of people like them, how much more successful can we make people with their overall lives?” he said.

Courtney Place, across the street from the Salem YMCA on Northeast Cottage Street. The complex is affordable veteran housing that opened in April 2024.

Holbert, a Marine Corps veteran, ended up in veteran advocacy enrolling in Corban University, where he said he felt out of place in a community of civilians. He’d been in Iraq before trading his fatigues for textbooks.

“Nobody really understands you,” he said. “You might be a similar age, but your life experience is a chasm.”

As of last week, four of the apartments are occupied, and about two-thirds have someone who’s in the process of getting approved.

Most of those applying are Vietnam-era veterans, Holbert said. Some have been on the streets, while others like Goodale have struggled to find housing they can afford.

Holbert said he loves giving tours, showing veterans the backsplash in the kitchen and the view of the Capitol and downtown landmarks from the upper floors.

“A lot of these veterans signed up sight unseen,” he said.

Tenants get a free membership to the YMCA across the street. The complex offers other services like transportation help, with an accessible van that one employee can use to take tenants on errands.

“You have to live at a senior house to do that. Apartment complexes don’t do that,” Holbert said.

The complex is permanent housing, meaning there’s no time limit on how long someone can live there so long as they meet the income requirements.

Goodale works a mix of odd jobs now, including doing marketing and security. He longboards to work downtown easily from his new apartment.

“I’ve been known to be called a Swiss Army knife,” he said.

He hopes to use the reduced rent to get back on his feet financially and figure out what’s next for him. Then, he said, he’d like to move on so another veteran can have the same opportunity.

“This is supposed to be a stepping stone,” he said. “It should always be full.”

Tim Goodale, 28, an Army National Guard veteran, prepares to longboard to work from his apartment at Courtney Place in downtown Salem on Thursday, April 11. Goodale was the first resident to move into the building, which is reserved for low-income veterans. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Contact Keizertimes Staff:
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