A new neighborhood is being built in Clay County to serve those who’ve served our country. Operation Barnabas, a Clay-based nonprofit, is building tiny homes in Middleburg for veterans in need.
Some of them, like Jordan Brimlow, say it’s a space to start again.
“I was living a reckless life of drugs, felonies, just crime, crime, crime,” says Brimlow, speaking of the struggles he faced after his service.
When Brimlow came home from his time in the military, he met more pain than praise.
“I lost my family, my wife took off, taking my four-month-old son and five-year-old daughter with her,” Brimlow says.
He went from serving our country, to serving time in jail. A hardship also felt by James Burse, who won a purple heart during his service.
“I was not okay,” Burse says, “I was fighting with my wife, I was ready to leave, drop everything and run away.”
Both men found themselves with nowhere else to go, until Operation Barnabas helped them find a home. Brimlow and Burse, since becoming involved with the nonprofit, have put themselves and their families in new homes, finding work with Operation Barnabas.
“It doesn’t matter how deep a hole you dig yourself into, how dark the room,” Brimlow says, “there is a light, a way out.”
Brimlow and Burse are looking to share this message with struggling veterans in Middleburg, looking to find their own homes. With the $1.5 million network of tiny homes planned in the area, it’s now possible, especially being completely free for veterans.
“If you had asked us, we had never thought we would be in a home,” Brimlow and Burse say, “neither one of us.”
As Clay County becomes more costly, more people are saying neighborhoods like these are a need, particularly realtors like Jennifer Gregory.
“The rents are high, the housing prices are high, and it’s a problem,” Gregory says.
[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]
Gregory works with Coldwell Banker Vanguard. She says average home prices in Clay County have risen by around $175,000 since 2016. Gregory’s hoping to see more efforts, similar to Operation Barnabas, for veterans making ends meet.
“I think it’s a huge need and will benefit lots of different communities of people,” says Gregory.
Operation Barnabas says the tiny homes are completely funded by donations. If you’d like to donate, you can learn more by clicking here.