Project Creates Tiny Homes for Veterans
$2 million project would build 48 tiny homes on a seven-acre site on Northwest Side.
Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin (VoW) and city officials are advancing a proposal to build up to 48 tiny homes on a seven-acre site at 6767 N. 60th St. near W. Green Tree Rd.
The proposal, modeled after VoW’s 15-home Racine development, is intended to build a supportive environment for homeless military veterans to reintegrate with society.
“People do not realize a veteran is one step away from being homeless when they’re discharged,” said area Alderwoman Chantia Lewis. The alderwoman and her husband are both veterans. First elected in 2016, Lewis said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon that this project is one of the things she is most proud of during her time in office.
Mayor Tom Barrett said the project is intended to build a sense of dignity and pride in veterans while providing supportive services they need to get back on their feet. Programs would include financial literacy, wellness and job training. The facility would be 100 percent alcohol and drug free.
VoW board chair Tim Lawrence, an Army veteran, said the organization has a two-year model intended as a pipeline into civilian life. The organization’s 15-home Racine development is full and eight veterans have successfully moved out of the development, secured jobs and returned to civilian life.
“Some of them just need a little push in the right direction, money in the bank,” said Lawrence. “Some don’t even know they have benefits coming.”
The organization’s database already has documented 111 homeless veterans in Milwaukee, but Lawrence and others say there are easily more. Director of development Fiona Murphy told the press of an individual that was living in the woods behind a commercial strip in Racine to avoid the stresses of society. That individual is now living in a tiny home in Racine. “You also have that here in epic proportions,” said Murphy.
The $2 million proposal does not rely on federal low-income housing tax credits or other federal funding. “We do not accept any [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] fudning because we want to meet the veterans where they are,” said Murphy.
Similar to Racine, a community building would be constructed in the middle of the development. It would contain restrooms, showers, a community kitchen, computers and classrooms.
The development would be exempt from property taxes, but terms of the deal proposed by the city would require the organization to make a $2,760 annual payment in lieu of taxes. Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM) assistant executive director Dave Misky said the annual payment was based on the estimated assessable value of the development.
The $35,000 land sale associated with the proposal will have its first public hearing on August 15th before the RACM board. The land sale and zoning request will also need Common Council approval. The zoning change calls for 36 to 48 homes on the site. Each home would be approximately 240 square feet.
Construction on the proposal is not expected to start until 2020 at the earliest. Architecture firm SEH is working on the design.
The proposal is the second tiny homes proposal for Milwaukee. Pathfinders proposed a community near E. Capitol Dr. and N. Humboldt Blvd. in 2017 for young adults aging out of foster care that has yet to advance beyond a zoning approval.
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