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Non-profit using ‘tiny houses’ trend to help homeless veterans

O’FALLON, Ill. – Tiny homes are all the rage. Now, they are coming to the St. Louis area to help homeless veterans.

A non-profit group called the Veterans Community Project is building a village of about 50 tiny homes for homeless vets in Kansas City. It costs an estimated $15,000 to house each veteran, with 100 percent of the money coming from donations. Vets moved into the first 13 homes in January.

Of about 500 cities wanting to be part of this program, Fox 2/KPLR 11 learned that O’Fallon, Illinois, is near the top of the list.

The group’s co-founder, Brian Meyer, said he has no doubt it will happen in the St. Louis area, with the possible locations now narrowed down to two; both on the Illinois side of the river.

“Walking into that house, something they can call their own, starts to bring back that self-pride,” said O’Fallon Mayor Herb Roach. “Restoring that pride is one of the big things, which will help them lift themselves up and get moving forward.”

There is strong support for the O’Fallon location: a five-acre section of land near St. Ellen Park.

“The vets would love it. It’s a new concept I see around the country. It would be cool to help out the vets with tiny homes that they can afford,” said O’Fallon resident and U.S. Army Veteran Mike Hill.

The program makes tiny homes available to vets. It also surrounds them with services needed to escape the cycle of homelessness and ultimately get places of their own.

“If there’s anybody we need to try to give a second hand to, it’s definitely our veterans who went out there and have given us the freedoms we all appreciate,” Roach said.

There’s no formal timeline but the first veterans are expected to be moving into their homes within a year.