Tiny house project seeks to combat Milwaukee veteran homelessness

MILWAUKEE - There's a new proposal to combat the veteran homelessness crisis in Milwaukee.

On any given day, an estimated 200 to 300 veterans in Milwaukee experience homelessness, according to the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative.

A new project is on a mission to build homes and hope.

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"Supporting veterans that are living on our park benches in every community," said Janice Bell, development director of the Veterans Community Project’s national expansion initiative. "The need is endless."

Bell said as a community, it's our responsibility to pay that service back.

<div>Courtesy of Veterans Community Project</div>
Courtesy of Veterans Community Project

The Veterans Community Project nonprofit is in the works of establishing a free tiny home village with support services for veterans who are living on the streets.

"Regardless of their time of service, or their discharge status, or what they’re dealing with at home, they served for us," she said. "We are going to be building 40 tiny homes for veterans here. Those will be family units as well as individual units."

Bell said there are veterans falling through the cracks that need aid.

"Our case management [is] onsite to support those veterans, and help them transition into permanent housing," she said.

<div>Courtesy of Veterans Community Project</div>
Courtesy of Veterans Community Project

Milwaukee would mark the sixth city where the VCP has built a tiny home village. The program has a proven track record of success for veterans.

"85% go through this and succeed," VCP capital campaign chair Bill Malzewski said.

Malzewski is just one community partner on board with the plan.

"They fill that gap," he said. "They build that dignity back for them so they can get back on their feet."

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He said the first step is to show your support.

"No veteran should be left behind," he said.

If the project gets approval from the city and the Milwaukee Common Council, the goal is to begin construction in the spring. Mayor Cavalier Johnson has already expressed his support.