Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

New Group Takes Over Veterans’ Tiny Houses Project

Northwest side project to house and support homeless veterans could be headed to actual construction.

By - Jun 16th, 2022 05:04 pm
Tiny homes rendering. Rendering by SEH.

Tiny homes rendering. Rendering by SEH.

A proposed tiny homes complex for military veterans is still scheduled to move forward on Milwaukee’s far northwest side, but under a new operator.

Kansas City-based Veterans Community Project (VCP) is replacing Racine-based Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin (VOW) as the owner and operator of the proposed complex. The new nonprofit operator opened its first community in 2019 in Missouri.

The Milwaukee project was first announced in 2019 for a vacant, city-owned site at 6767 N. 60th St. Split over two phases, it was to include 48 homes of approximately 240 square feet in size and a central community center for homeless veterans to develop life and professional skills while working to reenter society.

VOW bought the site for the first phase last year for $35,000, but never started construction.

VCP, under a contract approved Thursday by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee, has until June 2024 to complete the 24-unit first phase. Construction is required to start by March 15, 2023.

VCP would build a development similar, but not identical, to VOW’s proposal. Each unit would be a minimum of 240 square feet and include a toilet, sink and shower. A community building is still planned.

Similar to VOW’s plan, the tiny homes would be built in large part with volunteer labor. “We could just hire a developer to come and building this facility, but we purposely operate on a high level of volunteerism,” said VCP founder and veteran Bryan Meyer. VCP believes it builds community support. “I think everyone wants to do something for veterans, but there is not always a tangible way to give back.”

In addition to Kansas City, VCP also has projects underway in Longmont, CO, St. Louis, Oklahoma City and Sioux Falls, SD.

“We started getting a lot of requests from other communities to expand there,” said Meyer. “We look for the communities we believe we will be the most successful in.” Milwaukee was selected because of the project’s backing by the city and other partners.

The Common Council approved a zoning change in 2019 to enable the project, championed by Air Force veteran and area Alderwoman Chantia Lewis.

Meyer said his organization was approached about taking over the project by VOW. Lewis and RACM assistant secretary Dave Misky traveled to Kansas City in March to review VCP’s project.

The facility, under VOW’s plan, was to be named after Vietnam War veteran Gary Wetzel. The Milwaukee resident, a Medal of Honor recipient, is a tireless advocate for veterans.

As part of the development agreement, VCP is upholding VOW’s agreement to make an annual payment in lieu of taxes of $2,760 if the property is deemed tax exempt.

The Department of City Development intends to eventually develop the remainder of what is known as the Bacher Farms site. W. Green Tree Rd. could be extended west and utilities run into the 40-acre site.

The Common Council also needs to approve the new agreement.

2019 Renderings and Architectural Layout

Site Plans

Site Photos

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