Tackling Veteran Homelessness, One Client at a Time

The Tanner Project

A 36-bed facility in Salem helps homeless veterans transition to stable housing and a better life.

A display of flags in the lobby of the Tanner ProjectRemoving Barriers

If there’s one truth we’ve probably all observed, it’s that the causes of homelessness are as varied as the people experiencing it. It’s a complex problem without a one-size-fits-all solution. Either beds are not available or, even when they are, any number of barriers can keep people away. Sometimes those beds come with expectations that not everyone is able to meet — expectations of a base level of income at some facilities, of sobriety, and of being pet-free; these are just some examples of the sorts of barriers that might keep people outdoors and unsheltered.

Behavior First

By operating on a behavior-first model, the Tanner Project removes the barriers that keep unhoused veterans living on the streets. Because it’s not a clean-and-sober facility, there is no requirement for a resident to solve those issue before getting a roof over their head. They don’t have to be on medications if they are struggling with a mental illness. They must, however, behave in a manner that allows all residents to remain safe and comfortable. By removing the barriers, the Tanner Project is able to provide its clients with transitional housing for up to two years, and, hopefully, help them address their personal barriers once they are ready.

Sergeant Derek L. Tanner, 1980 – 2012

Sgt. Derek Tanner

A Life of Inspiration

When Sara Webb met Sgt. Tanner, he was struggling. Although a highly decorated combat veteran, he grappled with addiction and mental health issues. His struggles, however, never prevented him from inspiring Sara with his courage and drive. It was his encouragement that inspired her to pursue a career in social work, specializing in serving veterans.

It was Sergeant Tanner’s memory that inspired Sara to develop and direct a facility in Salem designed to help veterans transition out of homelessness. Given the opportunity to name the facility, Sara christened it after him to keep paying his inspiration forward. Today, The Tanner Project honors his memory by making a positive impact in the lives of other struggling veterans.

A flag-themed bench in from of the Tanner Project

Removing Barriers with Lottery Funding

Facilities like the Tanner Project receive most of their funding based on the number of clients in residence. Before opening, when clients haven’t yet arrived, it can be a challenge to get the funds needed to establish services. Thanks in part to a Lottery-funded grant from the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Tanner Project was able to hire staff and prepare for its first clients: Oregon veterans who served us all so proudly.

dignitaries hold shovels in preparation for symbolic groundbreaking

More Solutions for Vets

Courtney Place, soon to be operated by the Salem YMCA, will offer additional housing for Marion and Polk County low-income veterans. Read more about how lottery-backed bonds help get the project off the ground.

Learn More