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Jackson County group building tiny houses for homeless veterans

Operation Jackson County Veterans Inc. started building its first house as a transitional home for veterans. The home is hoped to be completed within a month, depending on the weather. (Photo Provided)

RIPLEY — Operation Jackson County Veterans Inc. is combating the homeless veteran in the community issue by building tiny houses to serve as a place for folks to stay while awaiting more permanent housing.

Over the past year, the project has been coming together, according to President Vaughn Anderson. Seventeen acres of land were purchased for the five homes that are hoped to be finished by next summer. The project is funded by Home for Good.

“Once we had the property, we went after the grant. The grant didn’t get finalized until about four months ago. We had everything in motion; we were going to build the houses no matter what,” Anderson said.

Building transitional housing was the best option to benefit both the organization and the individuals due to the cost of hotel rooms.

“(We) decided to build transitional homes to take them from the bad situation they’re in and put them there until they get into permanent housing somewhere,” Anderson said. “It typically takes 6-9 weeks to get permanent housing through the VA.”

Some may come home from overseas without a place to stay, Anderson said.

Each house costs roughly $40,000 but between volunteer work and the multiple donations for the project, the organization was able to save some money, Anderson said.

Anderson said the labor costs would be about the same as the cost of materials; however, 10-15 community members volunteer their time and skills to work on the homes.

“It’s saving us at least $40,000,” he said.

Several fundraisers took place to help with the cost. Bike nights, poker runs, T-shirt sales and Ford Drive for Your Community raised about $20,000 for the project. Anderson said the community helped by donating money, businesses hosted the fundraisers and provided prizes for those events.

Heating and cooling, appliances and landscaping services were also donated for the houses.

“This community has really stepped up to help,” Anderson said.

Ten percent of the Jackson County community is made up of veterans, Anderson said; only about seven or eight percent of them are accounted for.

“A lot of vets don’t want to be found; that’s the whole purpose of this property being remote in the country,” he said.

Being a combat veteran, Anderson said it’s important for those folks to be in a place of solitude and peace, especially those who suffer with PTSD.

The exterior part of the first home is nearly complete except for installing gutters and trim work. The next step is to install electric and plumbing, Anderson said. Each house will be fully furnished with everything necessary for a cozy living space.

“We will actually put food in the house when people move into it,” Anderson said.

Depending on the weather, the house is hoped to be completed in about a month.

The next home will be handicapped accessible and if the funding is there, Anderson said construction will start on it shortly after the first home is completed.

Anderson said the biggest need is donations to keep the project going. The Facebook page has a donate button or donations can be sent to 105 N. Court Street, Ripley, WV 25271.

Candice Black can be reached at cblack@newsandsentinel.com.

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