13 new tiny homes open for local homeless veterans with more planned for 2019

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Thirteen new doors are opening for veterans inside the Tiny Homes Village on 89th and Troost.

In just two months, the community has grown to 26 houses with a veteran who needs help inside of each one.

"Our goal is for when these vets transition out that they don`t come back to us because we've done such a great job with them, and so far that`s proven to work really well," said Mark Solomon, a Veterans Community Project co-founder.

Soloman said eight of the original 13 vets housed in the community have successfully transitioned out and into homes of their own. The houses they left behind are filling up.

"As we transition a vet out, we've got more vets unfortunately than we have houses. We're going to do everything we can to make a dent in that," Soloman said. "Because it is transitional housing, they get to stay as long as they need as long as they are making progress through the program we've designed around them."

Chris Stout, the CEO of Veterans Community Project, said 60 volunteers showed up six to seven times a week to ensure Phase Two of the project was finished in time for Veterans Day. He expects even more help for Phase Three, which is scheduled to begin this spring.

"Twenty-six houses now with 23 to finish up. We're hoping to start those late February or March, about the time it thaws and springs rolls around," Stout said. "We spent a little bit more time on these homes because we’re already housing people and working them through our system. But what’s really great is right as this weather is getting cold, we get to bring in another 13 residents, another 13 veterans in off the street and give them true wrap-around services and hopefully make a great impact on their life."

Veterans inside the homes don't pay rent or utilities. They do however have to follow a plan they agreed to with the VCP prior to moving in. If a vet follows the plan made for them, they can stay. If they don't, they are removed from the home.

Stout said each veteran is assigned to a case worker in order to make sure they are on track and getting the help they need.

Solomon said the tiny homes initiative is expanding outside of the Kansas City metro. VCP is planning to break ground on a tiny homes project near Boulder, Colorado, this summer.

Until then, Solomon said there is plenty of work left to be done to make sure the veterans still struggling to get back on their feet have a safe place to call home until they find one of their own.

"Any given night in Kansas City there will be between 130 and 200 homeless veterans that sleep on the streets. We know that we can`t house all of them, but we`re going to make an impact and hopefully make sure that they don`t get back into a cycle of homelessness," Solomon said.