Some military veterans who want to help struggling and homeless veterans have started a program to build tiny houses on a vacant piece of land in south Kansas City. The first tiny house will be dedicated Monday.
“We identified too many veterans suffering from PTSD and addictions who were going untreated and not doing well in traditional shelters,” Chris Stout, president of Veterans Community Project, said in a news release. “We decided as vets that we had to do something to help.”
Stout, an Army veteran who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, teamed with retired Marine Corps veteran Kevin Jamison, Navy reservist Mark Solomon and others to form their nonprofit organization. They are passionate about helping homeless veterans who don’t qualify for other veteran housing programs, and they pledge to connect residents with other services to aid their recovery.
They bought a four-acre vacant site near 89th and Troost from the Kansas City Land Bank, which markets and sells vacant and abandoned properties. They have completed the first 240-square-foot house and are in the process of identifying the first resident. They tentatively plan to have 50 tiny homes at what is being called Veterans Village, but that depends on fundraising.
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The organization is seeking private donors from the community and is challenging each military branch — Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, National Guard and Coast Guard — to fund at least one house. UAW Local 249 has agreed to outfit the tiny houses with basics such as dishes, linens and toiletries. Other community partners are also invited to pitch in to help.
The first house will be dedicated at a ceremony at 9 a.m. Monday at 1201 E. 89th St. Speakers include Kansas City 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 in a news release. “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.”