Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

48 Tiny Homes for Veterans

Zoning package for northwest side development gets first approval.

By - Sep 30th, 2019 07:53 pm
Tiny homes renderings. Renderings by SEH.

Tiny homes renderings. Renderings by SEH.

A proposal to develop tiny homes for homeless veterans took a critical step forward Monday afternoon.

The City Plan Commission unanimously recommended approval of a zoning change to allow Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin (VoW) to build 48 tiny homes and a community center at a seven-acre site at 6767 N. 60th St. The development, which is based on another facility VoW operates in Racine, would provide support services in a sober-living environment for military veterans that are homeless or facing homelessness.

The project was first introduced in late July, but this is the first time final designs have been reviewed publicly by city officials.

“They’re small, they’re great, but they’re not big enough for them to want to stay forever,” said VoW executive director Jeff Gustin. The homes, which are proposed to include an even split of 182-square-foot layouts with loft space above and 232-square-foot layouts on one floor, would be clustered in pods around a central community center. “We use the tiny house model because we want our veterans to have something they can have pride and ownership of,” said Gustin. Veterans could live in their homes for up to two years. “It’s nothing like a shelter,” concluded Gustin.

The designs are focused on simple-to-construct floor plans said architect Brian Cooley of SEH. Sweat equity labor from veterans, volunteers and project partners is expected to be utilized help construct the $2 million project. He said with the constructability focus a metal roof is planned over shingles, but the design patterns on the buildings were designed to match the surrounding neighborhood.

Gary Randle walked the commission through the site plans, which includes a large stormwater retention pond, permeable paving and rain gardens. “We want to be good stewards of treating our stormwater and also our green infrastructure,” said Randle. He said SEH is pursuing a Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District grant to support retaining all stormwater on site.

The co-ed complex would have a curfew, restricted visiting hours and random drug and alcohol testing. The homes, which would include a bathroom but no shower, would be inspected at minimum once a month said Gustin. An 8,800-square-foot community center, with secured entrances, would have showers and social space as well as classroom space for training classes and other social support programs. Residents would be required to complete community service hours in the community, and the organization would support their efforts to secure employment with nearby businesses. Gustin said the two-year-old Racine development, which is smaller than the Milwaukee development, has graduated eight residents to permanent housing.

The Milwaukee homes would be built in two phases, with the loft units coming first followed by the single-level units. Both styles would be approximately 19 feet tall. A future phase with more homes would require an additional zoning change.

A surface parking lot on the western edge of the development would include 48 stalls. But few residents are expected to have cars according to the document, with walkways planned to bus stops on N. 60th St.

A report from VoW says as many as 300 veterans are homeless in Milwaukee on any given night, a number that expands to 1,200 “3-4 times per year.” The report states that 20 percent of Milwaukee’s homeless population is believed to be made up of military veterans.

W. Green Tree Rd. would be extended west and utilities run into the site as part of the development, allowing the city to pursue the development of the rest of the site.

Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, in whose district the project is proposed, is excited about the project. “Once we provide it can work here in Milwaukee, it can work anywhere,” said Lewis. “As a veteran as a community leader, I am just proud to have this in the district.”

The project also drew praise from members of the commission. “I just want to say congratulations to the group,” said commission chair Patricia Torres Najera. “It’s really a place of dignity in terms of providing hope to our veterans.”

Renderings and Architectural Layout

Site Plans

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2 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: 48 Tiny Homes for Veterans”

  1. Jeffjay60 says:

    A great idea and a wonderful project. I do have to ask since I’m not familiar with the neighborhood, what is the walkability score? Is there access to groceries, barber shops, etc.

  2. just1paul says:

    @Jeffjay60 – I just google earthed the location, and it is mostly residential with industrial nearby, I see no walkability score, looks like you would need to drive or take a bus.

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