Manatee County delays plans for affordable housing for veterans

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Republican Commissioner Van Ostenbridge // "Manatee County Commissioner Meetings" YouTube 2023

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The Manatee County Commission is delaying moving forward with a project to house veterans. Earlier this month, they heard the proposal to use county-owned property for affordable housing.

The plan would have created a minimum of 120 units of affordable housing for veterans. Mark Barnaby is with Tunnel to Towers Foundation, the veteran’s charity asking for the city to donate the land.

“It’s an ideal site for this type of veterans-oriented community, as it is located at the intersection of two major roadways, 66th Street and Cortez Road, and it is in an urban area with easy transit access.”

However, some commissioners were hesitant including Republican District 3 commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge. The housing would be in his district, and he was concerned about potential drug use from the veterans. He worried it would spill over into his community.

“These are my concerns. Do I want to help these people? Yes, absolutely. But I need to protect the residents and the community that live around there. Taxpayers that live around there.”

The board voted to delay the hearing for up to six weeks in order to host a town hall meeting to seek feedback from residents. George Kruse represents District 7 At Large.

“How many discussions are we going to have, or have we had about other projects? None. But this one conveniently needs to have town halls before we can approve this being passed over.”

The town hall happened last Saturday. Van Ostenbridge labeled the meeting on Facebook as a town hall on a “West Bradenton Homeless Shelter.” Many residents commented on the post, calling the title misleading.

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