HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — According to the Capital Area Coalition on Homelessness the State of Pennsylvania has about 900 homeless veterans, and of that number about 48 of those are in Dauphin County.
Yet, one initiative aims to bring that number down even more. The program is in partnership with the Veterans Outreach of Pennsylvania who are working to build 15 “tiny” homes and a community center.
Leaders of this project say this is going to make a huge difference for area homeless veterans. “It’s an opportunity for the community and the city and just everybody that has a heart for veterans,” said Chris Stout.
Former United States Army Corporal and Afghanistan veteran Chris Stout says the strong efforts of building a “village” for homeless veterans will give them a sense of structure.
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“I think what we’ve also seen is that they start taking ownership as a community as a whole just beyond that front door, they’ll ask to garden, they’ll ask to repaint trim, they’ll mow, they’ll clean up there’s all kinds of great things that these service members start to do,” Stout said.
Combat veteran Joann Tresco says it can be a challenge for hometown heroes to merge back into civilian life.
“It’s vital because a lot of veterans that returned after war are just affected you can’t unsee what you see in war and when you come home it’s very difficult to transition back it’s very difficult to find your way and establish who you are,” Tresco said.
The $3.5 million project will be built at Phoenix Park near the PennDOT building in Susquehanna Township.
“So it’s veterans helping veterans and so the tiny home is necessary in this model for them to get away for when they need to get away regarding the situation but it’s only that purpose everything will be done outside the tiny home,” President of the Veteran Outreach of Pennsylvania.
“We are really looking to fill a need not just to provide them with some shelter but to transition them back into society,” Tresco said.
“Experiences here are going to be shared elsewhere and people from the community are going to grow from it, they come in and support this they’re going to see something massive happen from this,” Stout said.
Members of the Veteran Outreach of Pennsylvania say they anticipate breaking ground in the fall of next year.