Piquette Square property manager Paul McNeill is retiring
Paul McNeill, the property manager at Piquette Square for Veterans since the project opened in June 2010, is retiring.
Under Paul’s five-year tenure, Piquette Square, which provides quality housing and care for 150 formerly homeless veterans, has become an exemplary model of permanent supportive housing for veterans and is now recognized as an important part of the national campaign to end veteran homelessness.
“Paul was the perfect person to get Piquette Square started,” said Lisa Todd, who has overseen support services at the building since it opened. “As a retired veteran, Paul had a real understanding of the residents here and he was deeply committed to the mission of helping them rebuild their lives and reintegrate into the community.”
Paul served 27 years in the Navy and attained the rank of Captain. He received numerous military awards and honors, including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
Paul joined the Navy in 1978 after completing his college degree at Washington State University. Paul’s father and grandfather had both served in the Navy, but Paul said that his interest in the military was piqued by his fifth-grade teacher, who told the class adventurous stories of being a tail gunner in WWII.
“When I decided to join the Navy, my one objective was to serve in submarines,” Paul said.
Paul enrolled in the US Navy Officer Training Command in Newport, Rhode Island. He graduated high enough in his class to be awarded a submarine assignment on the USS Archerfish, which was engaged in special operations. Paul climbed through the ranks, became a Captain in 2000, and retired in 2005.
After his Naval retirement, Paul worked as a public school district administrator in the state of Washington for two years. He then moved to the Detroit, to join his partner Rosemary, who worked in the FBI Detroit office at the time.
“I took the job at Piquette Square because I really wanted to get involved in addressing the needs of veterans,” Paul said. “I am very proud of the work I have been able to do here and the fact that we’ve become a national model. We’ve hosted visits by the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other high-ranking Pentagon officials. We’re talked about at the highest levels of government. I like to the tell the residents at Piquette Square that because we’re a model, our success and what happens here has consequences for similar projects and programs around the country and impacts opportunities for other veterans.”
Serving as the property manager in a building housing 150 formerly homeless veterans poses numerous challenges, particularly when many veterans arrive still trying to recover from issues that contributed to their homelessness. Effectively addressing those challenges, Paul said, is a learning process for all involved.
“I feel that Paul was on top of things and dealt well with the challenges,” said Rickey Wright, a resident at Piquette Square and president of the local REBOOT program. “Paul was always fair, professional and dedicated. He is a good guy, and he will be missed.”
As he begins this new chapter of life, Paul intends to do more traveling, with Rosemary, who is also retired, by his side. He has four children and seven grandchildren located in three different states. Two of Paul’s children serve in the military. One is in the Navy; and the other in the Marines.
“I will certainly miss Piquette Square,” Paul said. “I enjoyed coming here every day. I like being the calm center of chaos, and, undoubtedly, when you have a place housing so many homeless veterans, there will be some chaotic times. What I will miss the most are the relationships I’ve formed. I will miss the residents. Above all, I will miss my colleagues at Southwest Solutions.”