Across the country on any given night, thousands of the nation’s veterans are homeless. While the VA touts successes in permanently housing these men and women, many more suffer. Veteran homelessness, however, is difficult to break down into numbers.
According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are just over 39,000 homeless veterans nationwide. However, actual numbers are very difficult to compile due to the transient nature of homelessness.
Many cities estimate their homeless veteran populations to be in the tens of thousands alone.
Because of this, several private organizations have taken it upon themselves to do what the VA hasn’t been able to: find a viable housing solution for the country’s homeless veterans. What they came up with was a little solution to a big problem.
The tiny house movement has been sweeping across the country for years among those concerned about the environment and with not incurring the large expense of a traditional house.
But now entire communities of tiny houses are springing up across the country, specifically designed to get the country’s homeless veterans off the street and on their feet.
In Kansas City, MO, the Veterans Community Project recently unveiled their first 13 tiny houses for veterans. Each 240 square foot home is site built and connects to sewage, electricity and plumbing, just like its bigger cousin.
The community also features a community center where veterans can receive various social services. The community eventually plans to build 50 homes on their site.
Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin has opened a veteran’s village in Racine with 13 tiny houses, and features a community center with a full size kitchen, food pantry, four showers, and laundry and recreation facilities.
The community also offers classes and counseling for veterans to help get them back on their feet.
“We do not want the tiny homes to be a place to hide. The goal of the Community Center is to encourage the veterans to step out of their tiny homes and into a community setting where they can interact with one another to help with their transition from homelessness,” the organization states.
In Franklinville, NJ, a veteran and former police officer turned pastor has created Operation Safe Haven on a 277 acre former campground. There are currently four tiny houses, with a fifth under construction. Many more are planned. The facility also breeds service dogs, and has two certified therapy horses.
“The whole idea is to give them a chance to stabilize,” Pastor Donnie Davis said in an interview with People. “They don’t want handouts, but we are offering a hand.”
Veterans Village Las Vegas announced late last month that it received a grant for 11 tiny houses constructed from shipping containers. The tiny houses will be located at their existing facility which features a community center, food pantry, and women specific veterans housing.
Shipping containers are plentiful, easily moved and easily modified, making them ideal for this kind of application. With a little bit of ingenuity, they can make some pretty nice tiny houses.
In Lee, NH, the Veterans Resort Chapel’s Veterans Village currently provides one tiny house and a chapel, with other volunteers in campers on the property to complete the planned 13 tiny houses.
Other cities across the country have tiny house villages for veterans in various stages of planning: Port Angeles, WA, Montgomery, TX, Greenback, TN and even Chicago, IL, where Catholic Charities has approached the city for approval to build seven tiny houses for the homeless veterans it already has on a campus there.
The over arching thing that all of these organizations have in common is that they were motivated to do something about a problem in their community. All of these organizations need volunteers to help with construction, as well as donations to help cover the costs of building the homes, which range from $10,000 to $20,000 each. Many have set up crowd funding accounts to help in their efforts.