Simplified: Veterans Community Project – the nonprofit behind a planned tiny home village for homeless veterans – has raised $1.6 million of its $1.7 million goal for the first phase of the project. And the goal is to have veterans in homes by the end of the year.
Why it matters
- At least 60 veterans are living in Sioux Falls without proper housing, said Jason Bieber, senior planner with the city and one of the people who has been working on this partnership with the housing nonprofit from the start. But the real number is almost certainly higher, he added.
- The city's partnership with the Veterans Community Project dates back to 2019, when a group of city leaders were looking for a way to help veterans in town who didn't have a place to live. Those conversations reignited in late 2020 after a pause amid the pandemic, and by April 2021 the project was announced publicly.
- Since then, the nonprofit has raised almost all of the money it needs to start building the first phase of the village, which will be located on two acres of land just north of Axtell Park School.
- If all goes to plan, homes will be ready for vets to move in by the year's end.
"We just are really excited to get started to – what I consider the fun part – which is building the village," said Sara Loar, vice president of national development for the nonprofit.
What's the background of this project?
The city first began conversations with Veterans Community Project when a group of employees – joined by a city program focused on collaboration – was looking for a unique way to solve homelessness in town.
By early 2021, the city had purchased the two acres of land slated for the tiny home village. They later gifted the land to the nonprofit.
- The city is also using federal funds to build a road for the village.
- In total, the city has spent about $800,000 in making this project possible, Bieber said.
"The support of the city just makes it so easy to get a project like this pushed forward," Loar said, adding that a partnership with Sioux Falls was a "no brainer."
Sioux Falls is one of five cities with similar villages under the same nonprofit, which was founded in Kansas City.
What happens next?
Goal number one is to get the fundraising over the finish line.
Construction on the road is expected to begin as early as next month, and then construction of the tiny homes could start as early as this summer, Loar said.
Phase one will be 20 tiny houses, Loar said, and planning is underway for phase two, which would add another five houses as well as a community center with resources for the veterans who live in the village.
How to help
Veterans Community Project relies on volunteers to help with construction, so watch for those opportunities.
There will also be two "Mission brief" information sessions to provide public updates and give people an opportunity to donate.
- The first session is on Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. and the other is Feb. 25 at noon, both at the Country Club of Sioux Falls.