Veterans Community Project was founded on the belief that one homeless veteran is one too many, which is why the nonprofit is on a mission to eliminate veteran homelessness by providing transitional housing and access to exceptional social services.
Founders Chris Stout, CEO; Kevin Jamison, chief operations officer; Bryan Meyer, chief legal officer; and Brandonn Mixon, facilities director, are all local Kansas City veterans who were working at various nonprofit programs and were frustrated by widespread homelessness throughout the veteran community. They were frustrated by the restrictions on those they could help due to various programmatic, grant and contract restrictions, and were distressed by seeing so many veterans cycle through the system and continually get turned down. What started out as a side project on nights and weekends turned into a full-time endeavor as the group decided to quit their full-time jobs to dedicate themselves to the Veterans Community Project, which has since grown exponentially.
The organization’s ideals and beliefs reflect that of their military background.
“In the Marine Corps, there is a saying that every Marine is a rifleman,” Meyer says. “This refers to the idea that regardless of a Marine’s job specialty, his most important role is that of a rifleman. There are a lot of moving pieces, and we all wear a lot of hats, but we are all homebuilders first and foremost. That being said, the heart of VCP is a belief in community, and the story of VCP is that of a community who grew tired of watching veterans suffer and sleep on their streets. VCP is often credited with the progress we have made, but VCP is a conduit for the community to give back to their veterans.”
The VCP defines a veteran as anyone who ever took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, as opposed to the traditional definition, which has no discharge requirement and includes individuals who served in the National Guard, Reserves and all active-duty service members.
Unlike traditional homeless services, the VCP is creating Veterans Village, a neighborhood of tiny homes in Kansas City, Missouri.
“We currently have 10 homes on the property,” Meyer says. “Each house will be on a concrete foundation connected to city sewer, water and electric.”
Homes are built in phases of 10 to adjust the social services programs. Once completed, a total of 50 tiny homes will provide veterans with privacy, stability, security and a sense of community as they transition back into society. The Veterans Outreach Center provides a wide variety of services, including immediate transportation, legal services, employment, counseling and links to other services and programs.
There is no application process to move into Veterans Village. The VCP is continually identifying local veterans currently homeless and building trusting relationships. Once assessed, the veterans are then prioritized based on their vulnerability, and those most vulnerable are given top priority for housing. Each is then given a personal program designed to meet their specific needs. VCP moves at the pace of the veteran with the internal goal of a successful transition occurring in 18 months or less.
There are numerous ways to get involved, whether it be as an individual or as an organization. When transitioning out of Veterans Village into permanent housing, a veteran can take all items inside their tiny home. Adopt a home by replacing items and making necessary repairs to prepare the home for the next veteran. Sponsor a home by donating $15,000, which provides all costs of construction, utilities, food and social services for one year.
Individual volunteers can sign up online or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Corporations may contact email@example.com to coordinate corporate volunteer events and sponsorship opportunities.
Veterans Village is located at 1201 E. 89th St. The Veterans Outreach Center is located directly across the street at 8900 Troost Ave. in Kansas City, Missouri. To donate, volunteer or for more information, visit VeteransCommunityProject.org.