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Milwaukee seeks Tiny Homes development as solution for Homeless Veterans

On any given day there are about 300 Wisconsin veterans who do not have a place to live, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. To combat the problem, the city of Milwaukee is supporting an initiative to provide tiny homes for homeless veterans.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Alderwoman Chantia Lewis held a press conference on July 31 to address the initiative. Alderwoman Lewis spoke about how the project was near and dear to her heart.

“If you do not know, I am a veteran. People do not realize that a veteran is one step away from being homeless when we are discharged,” said Alderwoman Lewis.

It is estimated that there are over 100 homeless veterans in Milwaukee. A nonprofit group is trying to address that need in the city. The plan is for Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin (VOW) to build up to 48 tiny homes on a vacant lot located at 60th Street and Green Tree Road.

“Tiny” means a home that’s 240 square feet. And it isn’t just a home that VOW hopes to provide. They also want to include support services such as financial literacy classes and post-traumatic stress disorder support groups. But the project still has a ways to go.

“Pretty much, we’re at the beginning stages of everything. We’ve got our architects drawing stuff on paper. We’re trying to drum up support right now,” said Tim Lawrence, chairman of the VOW board.

VOW has won over Mayor Barrett’s support, with the Mayor referring to the organization’s Racine project as an example of what success could look like in Milwaukee.

The Racine village of tiny houses includes 15 homes, which are meant to help people to transition into permanent housing. They are currently at capacity. Lawrence touted the project’s success, saying that since the opening of the village in 2017 they have placed eight veterans in permanent housing.

Despite key city official’s support in Milwaukee, there are a number of steps that need to be taken for construction to begin. First, the city has to get approval from the Milwaukee Redevelopment Authority and Common Council to sell the land to VOW. If all goes according to plan, city officials hope that Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin will be able to break ground in 2020.

Angelina Mosher Salazar

Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin and Veterans Community Project

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