Tragically, when a lot of men and women in the military come back from a deployment, they struggle to find a new job or a home. The number of vets living on the streets in significant. This local non-profit from Jacksonville is now hoping to make a difference.
The project, led by the Clara White Mission, wants to build a tiny house community for homeless vets to live in.
“Those men and women have protected us over the years,” the CEO of Clara White, Ju’Coby Pittman, said to CBS 47. “We owe them that, to give them a safe haven.”
Not only would these homes be able to get these veterans off the street, but the project also aims to build a sense of community.
The non-profit is partnering with Eco Relics and is currently investigating the possibilities to build said community. They’ve already got the plans for the tiny homes, built a few of them and they’ve got their eyes on a lot of ground, so things are looking bright for the ambitious project.
The homes themselves would also be very environmentally friendly, mostly built out of repurposed materials and would, of course, be sustainable.
They also want to give the vets a chance to help build the homes themselves, which will immediately get them familiar with things such as energy management and solar design.
In other words, they want to the community to not only be built for veterans, but built by veterans as well.
“We’ll train them on these techniques, we’ll teach them how to think green and design green,” Sarah Boren of the U.S. Green Building Council told. “Veterans will help veterans build houses.”
According to the organization, the limited size of the homes is actually beneficial. Smaller spaces are seen as more attractive for people returning from war, especially for those who are suffering from the effects of PTSD.
It gives them a sense of community,” another member of the organization added.
Clara White Mission does own a bit of land where it would build a number of the homes, but they’re trying to work things out with Jacksonville officials to use the surrounding land, which is owned by the city. An old building, the Genovar’s Hall, is located on this lot of ground, but the non-profit wants to renovate it and turn it into a community hub for all the local veterans.
The organization currently already houses a number of vets, and they hope to increase that number significantly with their tiny home community idea.
“I thought it was a good idea, I still think it is,” Clara White resident and Navy veteran Jeff Wilbanks said.
At the moment, the non-profit is looking for sponsors who are willing to sponsor a tiny home or a part of it, and they’re also hoping that the city will co-operate with them. The tiny homes don’t comply with the city’s building regulations as of yet.
A similar initiative has recently popped up in Kansas City, Missouri, where there’s already a complete neighborhood of vets living in smaller homes.
Henry Owens is a 32-year-old vet and severely suffering from PTSD. He couldn’t find a way to re-integrate into society, but this local tiny home project gave his life new direction and meaning.
“My PTSD just kind of kicked in wholeheartedly,” the veteran said to the Marine Corps Times. “I was struggling and dealing with that, and that just kept me in a cycle of not being independent and taking care of myself.”
“I have everything I need,” he said when asked about the 240 square feet surface area of his new home.
This small home community in Kansas City is being led by the Veterans Community Project, and they hope to expand the concept to other cities too. The Clara White Mission is now clearly following in their footsteps.
“It was a struggle to say, ‘I’m a veteran,’” Owens added. But now, “being around comrades that kind of understand the difficulties of adjustment to civilian life” has helped change that.
“You have neighbors who understand what you’ve been through, what you’re going through and you have that support to get you through,” he said. “It’s a mind frame of knowing I can make it now.”
That’s exactly the feeling that these tiny house communities are aiming for: getting our brave vets off the streets and give them a chance to rebuild. It’s the least we could do. What a heartwarming initiative!
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