“Hey, man, you okay?” asks Kevin Jamison of homeless veterans he’s met on the streets of Kansas City. Kevin, a retired Marine, co-founded the Veterans Community Project “to get homeless veterans off the streets but we [also] wanted to bring the veteran community together to attack that problem of homelessness.” The year following his retirement Kevin felt “numb,” having problems assimilating back into American culture. Helping veterans, he found, is helping himself. “Doing what I’m doing with Veterans Community Project is just as much part of my healing process as it is …helping the veterans recover and heal as well.”
Veterans Community Project Core Concepts
Veterans Community Project (VCP) was designed to provide veterans with services that no other veterans’ service provided, like accommodating their pets, and to not repeat services available from other providers. The core concepts of VCP are:
An oath to serve those who have served us
Never saying no to a veteran in need
Bringing the veteran community together to attack veterans’ issues
Being an avenue for the community to give back to veterans
Thinking Big About Tiny Houses
It was during a meeting with Kansas City Councilwoman Teresa Loar that Kevin was introduced to the idea of tiny houses. He and his partners had heard of the show, Tiny House Nation, but didn’t know anything about tiny houses. Prior to this meeting VCP was looking at school buildings to buy and renovate; the cost for such a project hovers around $3,000,000.00. VCP found they could build a tiny house for around $15,000.00, a much more doable figure. They also contacted the Tiny House Collective in Kansas City, a nonprofit community land trust, which has helped paved the way for small houses in Kansas City by investigating existing codes for cottage house developments. Putting all of this work together led to the conception of Veterans Village.
Veterans Village, according to VCP’s website, is “a specialized community of tiny-homes and onsite services that will provide housing stability and treat the underlying cause of the Veteran’s homelessness. The combination of housing stability and onsite services will lead to more successful permanent housing outcomes. Once ready, the Veteran will transition to other, existing programs. Veteran’s Village will provide the Veteran with a sense of community support as they transition back into society.”
Using the tiny houses gives veterans a sense of privacy and security, and opportunities to reintegrate into society at a comfortable pace and to customize their living space. The community center will provide mentoring, professional counseling, case management, and will link to existing programs all on site, which VCP believes “will lead to successful housing outcomes.” Once veterans transition to other programs, they will “be permitted to take everything from inside the home with them.”
If you’re interested in providing a unique opportunity for homeless veterans, and you want to find out more about Veterans Village and all the work Veterans Community Project is doing to help veterans in the Kansas City Area, visit their web page at http://veteranscommunityproject.org.