On a cold Monday morning January 29, more than 100 of us attended a ribbon-cutting and move-in ceremony for 13 tiny transitional homes for homeless veterans on the south side of 89th St. just east of Troost.
“I can’t wait to see my new home,” said Michael Koch, a homeless veteran. “Now I’m going to have my own house and my own keys,” said Marvin Gregory, another homeless veteran.
The 240-square-foot homes are the first of 49 planned for Veterans Village by the Veterans Community Project, a non-profit organization founded by area veterans for veterans.
“On any given night in Kansas City there’s between 130 to 200 homeless veterans who sleep on the streets in the cold, under bridges and in the woods,” said Chris Stout, a founder of Veterans Community Project. He said with the completion of the first tiny homes at least 13 of these veterans now will have a safe and warm place to sleep.
Each furnished home is on a concrete foundation and is connected to electric, sewer and water service. They include a tiny seating area, bed, bathroom with shower, refrigerator, stove and sink and have heating, air conditioning and internet access.
Area engineering firms, contractors and suppliers donated employees’ time and materials for the project, and hundreds of union members and private citizens volunteered to work on the project.
The 4.2-acre site was acquired from the city’s Land Bank program, and the city appropriated $146,000 for constructing sanitary sewers to serve the homes as recommended by the Public Improvements Advisory Committee I serve on, divided equally from funds designated for all six City Council districts.
Veterans are provided with food and necessities and there is no set limit on how long they can stay in the tiny homes as long as they are making progress toward their transition to traditional housing.
The Veterans Community Project also will furnish transportation and help finding jobs, as well as social services such as counseling and mentoring, life skills classes, mental and physical health services and case management that complement other available veterans’ services. It plans to construct a community center on the site to serve the veterans.
CommunityAmerica Credit Union Foundation presented a $125,000 check to the Veterans Community Project at the ribbon cutting.
Other organizations or persons interested in donating, volunteering at the organization’s Outreach Center at 8900 Troost or helping with construction may go to www.veteranscommunityproject.org.