The city of Milwaukee is set to build 48 tiny homes for veterans who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.
City mayor Tom Barrett signed off the zoning authorization on Monday in honor of Veterans Day. The housing project will be led by Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin – a “homeless recovery program” – with construction to begin in spring.
On Tuesday, the project was approved by the Milwaukee Common Council. This initiative of building tiny homes for veterans is an effort directed towards helping those who are struggling get back on their feet.
The plan is to construct 48 homes – each about 240 square feet including a half-bathroom – and a 10,000-square-foot community center housing restrooms, a kitchen, pool tables and a washer and dryer, which will serve as a place for veterans to socialize.
“We wanted to really provide them with a key to their own home. However, the real recovery doesn’t begin without human connection,” Fiona Murphy, director of development at Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin, told ABC News.
The center will also give veterans the opportunity to “leave their home on their time and seek out a group setting and then return to privacy and independence when they want,” Murphy added.
Chantia Lewis, Milwaukee Alder and a United States military veteran, is the representative of the area where the tiny homes will be built. She knows how easy it is for a veteran to become homeless after returning from service.
“When you transition, your work experience may not translate into the civilian world, and it’s really difficult to get employment which people don’t really understand,” she said.
“People don’t realize that when you serve, after you’re done, they say, ‘Thank you, have a good day,’ and let you just go out there,” she continued. “Which would be OK if people were welcoming when you come back home.”
Tim Lawrence, chairman of Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin, told WPR in July that there are about 111 homeless veterans in Milwaukee.
The program aims to provide housing for homeless veterans and those who are at risk of being homeless for up to two years as they transition into permanent housing. Through private funding and donations, the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin is able to assist them by providing them with food, shelter, and clothing.
The non-profit has already done a similar project in the city of Racine called the James A. Peterson Veteran Village. It opened in November 2017 and has 15 120-square-feet homes and a community center. So far, nine veterans have already “graduated” from the program since it started. The tiny home community in Milwaukee will be modeled after this successful project, which is slated to open in July 2020.
“Everyone says, ‘Why tiny homes?’,” Lewis said. “Because it gives the opportunity to have a level of freedom and independence as well as support wrapped together.”
Military veterans endured a multitude of hardships in service of our country, and it is vital that the community gives back to them in as many ways as possible. These projects are a beautiful example, and we hope that more organizations and governments will direct funding in support of these initiatives!
To learn more about tiny homes for homeless veterans watch the video feature below: