In the last few years, the U.S. government has been working hard to combat veteran homelessness. The Department of Veteran Affairs reported that 123,000 veterans and their families were "housed or prevented from becoming homeless" last year. But there are still thousands more that continue to live on the streets, in cars or squat in abandoned buildings.
In an effort to help keep as many of our nation's bravest men and women off the streets, Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin (VOW) has created something that doesn't exist anywhere else in the country - a tiny home village for homeless veterans.
"It's an affordable way to respectfully help a veteran get back on their feet," said Jeff Gustin, co- founder and executive director of VOW.
The non-profit organization, which is headquartered in Racine, Wisconsin, built 15 tiny homes in the James A. Peterson Veteran Village "without the help of the government."
The homes are fully wired and equipped with basic amenities that will help the veterans remain comfortable.
You'll just have to see the interior to see how the builders have managed to turn a small space into an efficient dwelling unit.
Every home comes fully equipped with electricity, a closet, couch, heating, a bed, drawers and a television.
The homes are modeled like lofts, so there's also a staircase that people can use to climb up to their beds.
You've probably noticed that the space is missing other basic amenities like a stove, fridge, and washing machine. These were left out on purpose because the organization "didn't want to give them everything they needed to move into these small units so they could isolate themselves."
"Instead -- forcing them to socialize. They'll start to socialize on their own comfort level because all the resources they need are inside the community center," Gustin said.
The center boasts multiple showers, a fully equipped kitchen, laundry machines, a common TV area and computers.
"They'll be able to open up and they'll be able to say, 'Hey I'm not alone. I'm here with 15 other guys that are in the same boat that I'm in essentially,'" said David Smith, a staff member at the Outreach Center.
Another wonderful thing about this initiative is that there is no time limit for how long the veterans can live in these units, and VOW is present every step of the way to help the heroic men and women get back on their feet.
As long as they live in the community, they're subjected to mandatory therapy and character building, counselling, and job training. The goal of the program is to help their clients attain stability and regain their life after two years.
"This is a community that our community built for our veterans, not just us," Gustin said.
The application is open to all veterans, and those interested in one of the homes are encouraged to visit the Outreach Center to get the process started.
Hopefully the success of this unique program will inspire other communities to follow suit and end veteran homelessness.
[H/T: Fox 6]