The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates there were roughly 40,000 homeless veterans across the country in 2016. A new tri states organization believes the construction of tiny homes could help reduce that number.
Richard Elsenpeter of New London, Missouri is a retired veteran, so he said organizations that work with fellow veterans are near and dear to his heart. He said he was approached around six months ago about heading up an effort to build a tiny home community for homeless veterans.
“It was not something I was really looking at doing,” said Elsenpeter. “But the more I thought about it, the more I got involved in it, the more I contemplated and deliberated, it just sounded like something I really wanted to try to take on. They asked and I volunteered.”
Elsenpeter said that led to the formation of the Tri State Veterans Community Village (TSVCV). He said the organization is in its infancy and is still trying to get a handle on the local need.
“We are looking into exactly what are the demographics for this,” said Elsenpeter. “We have heard anywhere from some people saying it is not an issue at all, there’s 4-5, to some people with some of the soup kitchens in the area who say they serve about 600 homeless veterans a month out of their facility.”
Elsenpeter said the best location for the tiny home village is Quincy.
“It is a great, centralized location for the tri state region,” said Elsenpeter. “We are working with a 100-mile radius of Quincy.”
Elsenpeter hopes to start working on the first home in 2018 as long as a site in Quincy is secured. He said this project will change the lives of veterans who do not have a home of their own.
“This will give that military member, that veteran, a home that he can call his,” said Elsenpeter. “It’s a smaller home, so it is not so overwhelming, so he feels a little more secure in that smaller home. It gives him a community of veterans that he can work with. If you just take a veteran and put him in a homeless shelter someplace, the trouble you have with that is that he is not among his own. You get a bunch of military people together, they will talk shop. They can talk among themselves much easier than they can talk to other people.”
Elsenpeter said tiny homes would also give vets an address, which could help them secure state and federal resources available to veterans. He said at this point, the group needs volunteers and board members who are ready to make a difference.
“We look at this and we say one homeless veteran is too many,” said Elsenpeter. “So if we can help one homeless veteran, two, five, ten, within this geographic area, then we are doing our job.”