23 more homeless veterans will be provided shelter
By John Sharp
The Veterans Community Project (VCP) headquartered at 8900 Troost celebrated the completion of its 49 tiny homes for once homeless veterans and a community center to serve them with a holiday lighting ceremony and open house December 4 attended by hundreds of well-wishers.
The 26 tiny homes that were previously completed on the Veterans Village site on the south side of 89th St. just east of Troost are all occupied by veterans. Occupancy of the 23 newly constructed homes will be phased in over the next several weeks, and they are all expected to be occupied by about the end of January.
Almost all of the furnished tiny homes (which include kitchen and bathroom facilities) are designed for single occupancy. They are about the size of a very small studio apartment, but four are slightly larger to accommodate veterans and their children.
The community center includes a fellowship hall for residents, a computer lab, medical and dental examination rooms, a counseling room, a commercial kitchen, offices for the four on-site case managers and other staff, and even a veterinary examination room for residents’ pets.
Veterans can stay in the tiny homes at no cost as long as they are following their case management plan to prepare them for stable employment and independent living or for permanent supportive housing if they are too elderly or too disabled to find employment.
Bryan Meyer, co-founder and CEO of VCP, said he expects most veterans to transition to permanent housing within 8 to 14 months, but all cases are judged individually.
Meyer thanked members of the greater Kansas City community for donating their money and volunteering their time to complete construction of Veterans Village and the community center.
“The support of the community has been instrumental in everything we’ve accomplished so far,” Meyer said. “When you give people a chance to help veterans they do it.”
But Meyer stressed the mission of VCP which was founded in 2015 by combat veterans is still just beginning.
“Our mission is not just to build a community of tiny homes. Our mission is to assure veterans get access to all the services they need,” he said.
Rather than attempt to provide all such services itself, Meyer said VCP partners with other agencies and nonprofits that serve veterans, as well as with businesses and individuals that are willing to help. He said his agency hopes to expand the coordination of services for all veterans in the area.
VCP’s Veterans Outreach Center at 8825 Troost on the other side of 89th St. from Veterans Village currently provides referrals to other agencies for financial counseling, housing, legal and other services for all veterans on a walk-in basis. It also provides veterans with RideKC bus passes, food and personal hygiene kits, employment support, and discharge upgrade and military documentation services.
Besides hoping to better coordinate services for veterans in the Kansas City area, VCP hopes to expand its tiny homes model coupled with the wraparound social services veterans need to other cities.
Meyer said VCP has been working with the city of Longmont, CO., and community leaders there to construct 25 tiny homes and a community center in that suburb of Denver, with groundbreaking anticipated this spring.
Jason Kander, the former Missouri Secretary of State and a combat veteran, is heading VCP’s efforts to expand its model to other cities.
“Our mission is to be in eight additional cities by the end of 2022, and we are definitely on track,” Kander said.
Persons and organizations that wish to help VCP should go on its website at veteranscommunityproject.org or call its office at 816-599-6503.