Around Thanksgiving, the first homeless military veterans should be moving into a tiny-house neighborhood being built at 89th Street and Troost Avenue, a leader of the Veterans Community Project said Thursday.
If all goes well in the construction of sewers and other infrastructure, housing that the nonprofit group’s co-founder Chris Stout thought might be available last fall is finally in view — thanks to local contractors chipping in a least $300,000 in goods and labor.
Those donors were recognized at a morning groundbreaking ceremony attended by more than 60 supporters of the project, including Kansas City Hall officials.
“It’s coming to fruition,” Stout said. “All of these guys have done a piece to get us here.”
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The Veterans Community Project, launched in 2015 by young combat veterans operating almost entirely on private funding, had bought 4 acres of cheap land from the city’s Land Bank without knowing the property lay more than 700 feet from sewer lines. The discovery nearly killed plans for the site of the future Veterans Village of 240-square-foot homes.
A $500,000 challenge to build sewers and other utilities was chopped by about four-fifths when several contractors offered free or reduced rates. Firms that came to the project’s rescue included Kissick Construction, Blue Nile Contractors, Augers Unlimited, Teague Electric and Taliaferro & Browne engineers, among others.
The lack of sewers was first noticed in February 2016 by project volunteer Mike Looney, a Taliaferro & Browne civil engineer who delivered the bad news on a weekend he helped clear brush from the property.
“I realized these guys didn’t really know much about what’s needed for site development,” said Looney. “So we drew up a plan.”
Veterans Village will begin with 10 houses now being stored nearby. According to plans, the neighborhood over time will include a community center and provide as many as 50 temporary units to homeless veterans.