Homelessness in metro was focus of Kansas City Fed conference
A tiny home, painted a calm blue, decked in American flags and affixed with a quaint front porch, sat in front of the Bank on the cold morning of Dec. 5. A chilly wind swirled around the home, but inside it was sunny and warm. The Veterans Community Project brought the tiny home to the Bank as part of a conference hosted with the FDIC and Alliance for Economic Inclusion called Fighting Homelessness in the Kansas City Metro with Safe and Affordable Housing Options.
The conference Tuesday included the topics of youth homelessness, housing and economic mobility, affordable rental housing and safe and affordable homeownership options for moderate-income households. The Alliance for Economic Inclusion’s mission is to help stabilize, financially education, bank and promote economic mobility for low- and moderate-income families across the metro Kansas City area.
The tiny home, a tangible example of one organization’s efforts to address homelessness in Kansas City, was showcased by Veterans Community Project as an example of one of the 49 homes for veterans it plans to unveil on a 4.8 acre tract of land at 89th and Troost Avenue in the heart of the Kansas City metro area. The non-profit targets homelessness among veterans, as well as providing other support services.
“We heard about other non-profits in Kansas City saying no to veterans, saying veterans didn’t qualify for services,” said Brandonn Mixon, chief project officer and CEO of Veterans Community Project. “We asked, ‘Why isn’t there a non-profit to help anyone who served in the military?’”
Mixon, a combat veteran himself, understands the difficulty of transitioning between military and civilian life. After being medically discharged from the military and returning to Kansas City, he recalls feeling pushed to action after seeing homeless veterans on the street.
“I’ve been to Afghanistan and I know what they’ve been through,” he said. “They are my brothers and sisters and they are at war. Why am I not pulling them out of the trenches?”
In addition to housing, the project at 89th and Troost will include a 5,000 square foot community center that will house a variety of services, from medical, dental, vision care and counseling to pet services and a barber shop. Mixon explained that because many homeless shelters in the Kansas City metro area do not allow pets and many homeless veterans refuse to abandon their pets, their community project had to accommodate pets.
Most of the tiny homes will be 240 square feet, but some will be as large as 320 square feet to accommodate veterans with disabilities or families with children. The average veteran will stay in the home for six to nine months before transitioning to independent housing.
The non-profit plans for 14 veterans to move in before the end of 2017.
“We want to take these guys off the street, provide counseling and connect them with services to help them focus on their individual issues,” said Mixon.
Learn more about Veterans Community Project.