Veterans provided affordable homes at Hillside at Village Square

Crosby, 72, is an Air Force veteran and Maine native who hails from a long line of military service. Three of his uncles served in World War II; his grandfather served in World War I. It’s not surprising, then, that he has always felt the need to help others. In 1969, Hurricane Camille devastated the Mississippi coast while he was in flight school, and he spent days helping rescue people from rubble and distributing supplies. When his father developed dementia, he returned to Maine so that he could tend to his elderly parents full-time.

In 2021, Crosby was in desperate need of help himself. He became homeless and lived in his car for months on end. “Frankly, I just wanted to die,” he said.

Crosby received counseling at Togus VA Medical Center and was put in contact with Volunteers of America Northern New England (VOA), a nonprofit organization that helps provide affordable housing and other services to low-income people. He spent 1½ years at the VOA’s Veterans Career House in Biddeford, which provides transitional housing and support services to male veterans who are unhoused.

Earlier this month, VOA helped Crosby and other veterans obtain apartments at Hillside, a new Avesta Housing affordable housing community on the Village Square campus of Gorham. Built on the site of Avesta’s old administrative offices, Hillside provides 27 safe, quality, affordable homes for ages 55 and older in a four-story building with elevator service.

Having a safe, quality place to call home has given Crosby a new lease on life. He can cook his own meals in his own kitchen, play his keyboard without disturbing others, and walk his emotional support dog, Boz, around the campus. And lovingly placed in the living room next to the window is a reminder of his family’s history of service – the funeral flag of his grandfather.

“I feel so blessed,” Crosby said. “Truly, I do.”