The Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin plans to house the James A. Peterson Veteran Village, community center and food pantry at 1624 Yout St.
The property will also be home to 15 formerly homeless veterans, who will live in tiny homes and receive support services. Veterans Outreach feeds hundreds of area veterans each year through their food pantry, and helps vets furnish and fill their homes once they find housing. Now the group is taking that effort one step further with the veterans’ village.
Jeff Gustin started the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin after doing volunteer work with other homeless veterans groups in Union Grove. Seeing how great the need was there, he decided to help veterans here. Now the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin has an offer to purchase the building, which is the former Teamsters Local 43 Union Hall.
“We are looking forward to getting the permit and zoning process started,” Gustin said. “We hope to be able to continue to work in a positive way with the City of Racine, and the surrounding residents to help area homeless veterans.”
The group plans on building 15 tiny homes from scratch in three phases. The first phase will include building five homes and a community center that will have counselors specializing in alcohol and other drug treatment, and mental health issues. The second and third phase will each include adding five more houses. Three homes will be arranged together around a common space, which will include a deck.
“Also we should be turning in permit application within a week. Waiting on land surveys to be completed which are needed for the application,” Gustin said.
Once the organization receives the necessary permits, they expect to start building the first phase of the project. The group has already reached out to neighbors and businesses about the project. Many have already signed a petition to show their support.
“The overall response has been great for our proposed Veteran Village from area residents and businesses,” he said.
Gustin believes that they are getting support from area neighbors because they are not operating the village as a shelter.
“They know the veterans will be living here, not coming and going like a shelter,” he said.
The whole project is expected to cost $125,000, which the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin is currently collecting donations to pay for the project.
“We hope to have 5 units in place before winter, which will all depend on how long the permit process takes,” Gustin said.