The concept of tiny houses has merged with a mission to help homeless veterans in the creation of Veterans Village KC, a unique effort started by an alliance of local vets who saw a need. The result will be 30 tiny homes for the homeless in a four-acre village.
Frustrated about the lack of assistance for homeless veterans, an alliance of local men from three different branches of the military came together last winter to create Veterans Community Project (VCP), a non-profit organization that plans to build tiny houses for homeless veterans in the Kansas City area. The first home was dedicated this month by Mayor Sly James and U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver.
“The good news is veteran homelessness is declining thanks to programs like this one,” Cleaver said. “The Veterans Community Project not only creates homes for our veterans who have already given so much, but it creates hope and a new beginning.”
The site of the planned Veterans Village is on four acres of land that VCP purchased from Kansas City Land Trust near 89th street and Troost Avenue, at 1201 E. 89th St., Kansas City, MO. Each tiny house will be 240 square feet and include a living, dining and bedroom area.
Organizers are working on energy-efficiency to make the homes less expensive to heat and cool. The homes are insulated, all electric, using energy-efficient mini split HVAC systems and tankless water heaters.
This is transitional housing that organizers hope will bring a holistic approach to healing from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or substance abuse. Once 10 tiny homes are on site, there will be staff to provide services to help reintegrate veterans into the community.
The total cost of each home is $10,000, which includes food for one year. Organizers would like to include a community center and gardens in the project, and are seeking funding now. There is no cost to the veteran.
“The residents of Veterans Village will find privacy, security and dignity in their own home, and we will connect them with the community and services to aid their recovery,” said retired Marine Corps veteran Kevin Jamison, VCP co-founder and vice president. “Our fundraising has been from private donors and groups like UAW, so that we are not restricted from serving any homeless vet.”
Chris Stout, VCP president and an Army veteran who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, envisions the Veterans Village as a community effort to help the men and women who served America and now find themselves homeless.
“We identified too many veterans suffering from PTSD and addictions who were going untreated and not doing well in traditional shelters,” Stout said. “They were falling through the cracks because they did not qualify for veteran housing programs. We decided as vets that we had to do something to help.”
A social media fundraising campaign is planned, according to Mark Solomon, Navy reservist who served one tour in Iraq, and is VCP’s director of communications.
“We are an alliance of three different branches of the military, so we will challenge each branch to fund at least one tiny house at Veterans Village,” he said. “A goal of $10,000 per tiny house is our challenge to community donors and especially Navy, Marines, Air Force, National Guard and Coast Guard veterans … and even the Army vets.”
Community partners are being sought and include UAW Local 249, which has agreed to outfit each tiny house with necessities such as dishes, linens and toiletries.
In Kansas City, VCP estimates there are 170 homeless veterans. According to the National Demographics of Homeless Veterans, 51 percent of homeless veterans have disabilities; 50 percent have serious mental illness; and 70 percent have substance abuse problems.
For more information about VCP and its fundraising efforts, go to www.veteranscommunityproject.com.