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April 21, 2014

First North Andover veterans housing in 50 years to be called Freedom House

Freedom prevails

NORTH ANDOVER — Freedom prevailed.

During the last few weeks, several names were suggested for the veterans housing that’s taking shape at 138 High St., but when it came time for a decision, the Patriotic Observance Committee voted unanimously Wednesday night to call it Freedom House.

Freedom House is the first housing for veterans that has been built in North Andover for more than 50 years. Wednesday, John Ratka, director of the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center, gave committee members a tour of the building before they met to decide on the name.

The center, which manages many homes for veterans in Haverhill, bought the house at 138 High St. last year. When the center bought the house, it was vacant, rundown and in foreclosure. A.J. Wood Construction is renovating the house and Ratka said he’s confident the work will be done by June 14, Flag Day, when Veterans Services Officer Ed Mitchell, Ted Tripp, chairman of the Patriotic Observance Committee and other members of that panel hope to dedicate the home.

A two-bedroom apartment will be located on the first floor, while a three-bedroom apartment will be on the second and third floors. The bedrooms of the latter apartment will be on the top floor.

A third apartment, with one bedroom, will be located in an addition that will be constructed to the left of the building as one faces it. The veterans who live at 138 High St. will pay affordable rents, Ratka said.

Last year’s annual Town Meeting approved $461,894 for the project. Financial support has also come from North Andover home funds, money provided by the federal government that’s distributed by the state; and the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center, Ratka said.

Tripp, Mitchell and other veterans advocates want to see at least another dozen homes for veterans built in the next few years. Mitchell has often said that many returning veterans find that it’s too expensive for them to live in North Andover.

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