Tiny home for homeless vets ready for dedication

Posted at 3:11 PM, Apr 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-30 00:00:52-04

The first home of many is now planted at the Veterans Community Project in Kansas City. 

It started on Veterans Day in 2015 when founders Chris Stout, who served in the Army, and Kevin Jamison, who served in the Marines, met with Mayor Sly James.

The nonprofit bought four acres of land on 89th and Troost with the goal of ending veteran homelessness. Their idea was to create a village of 52 tiny homes to give those who need a place something to call their own. 

On April 21, the first home was delivered to the village.

"I think a lot of people thought, 'They're going to fizzle out, they're not going to get traction,'" Stout told 41 Action News.

Now, it seems the group is gaining more ground than ever at a rapid pace.

"I'm ready to get somebody in it," Stout said. "I want to see it work."

The nonprofit was created to serve veterans who fall through the cracks or who can't qualify for Veterans Affairs benefits. Stout has worked with retired military for years and sees firsthand the challenges they face. 

For the VCP, it all starts with having a home.

"It's going to be a home for them until they get squared away, and then they get their own place," Stout said. "That's dignity in itself. That key is like Superman's cape. It's like Captain America's shield."

This village concept was inspired by an Army veteran called White Hawk. He's almost 70 years old and has lived on the street since the '90s. People like him are the ones the VCP wants to reach.

White Hawk was the veteran who got to see the first tiny home.

"There's a lot of people that might come out here," he said. "I mean, just have to get the word of mouth going."

Stout told White Hawk, "We know that you may not be ready to come into a place like this today, or if you come in, you might not be ready to come out tomorrow."

"I'm not quite sure if I want to jump into something like this yet," White Hawk said.

For him, living on the streets means a certain amount of freedom. White Hawk may not be ready now, but he's leaving the door open for the future.

"Got a couple spots picked out if I come over here," he said. 

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II and Sly James will attend a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting for the first tiny house on May 2. The VCP will host a community day on May 7 to get input from the community on its plans for the village, and everyone in the area is invited and encouraged to attend.

“The good news is, veteran homelessness is declining thanks to programs like this one," said Cleaver 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."


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