New village to tackle homelessness and help veterans

With homelessness such a huge global issue, it can feel like too big a task to tackle.

However, one city is taking on the challenge to fight poverty by turning a seven-acre plot into a village for homeless people.

Milwaukee, otherwise known as the largest city in the state of Wisconsin, is set to build 48 tiny homes specifically for veterans.

Speaking about the initiative, United States military veteran Chantia Lewis explained how difficult the transition can be from a career in the armed forces back into everyday life.

She said: “When you transition, your work experience may not translate into the civilian world, and it’s really difficult to get employment which people don’t really understand.

“People don’t realise that when you serve, after you’re done, they say, ‘Thank you, have a good day,’ and let you just go out there.

“Which would be okay if people were welcoming when you come back home.”

It is believed there are more than 40,000 homeless veterans in America.

Studies show that vast numbers of ex military personnel experience mental health issues from PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] which can lead to substance abuse.

Often their skillsets do not meet the criteria of ‘civvy’ life, with high numbers of unemployment and people battling depression or anxiety.

The project, which has been given the green light by Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, will see 48 new homes – each measuring at 240 square-feet and including a bathroom.

There will also be a 10,000 square-foot community centre on site with a kitchen, pool tables, and a washer and dryer service.

Talking about the social objectives of the project, the director of development Fiona Murphy said: “We wanted to really provide them with a key to their own home.

“However, the real recovery doesn’t begin without human connection.”

With additional private funding and donations, the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin will also able to provide food and clothing to the homeless, not just shelter.

We recently revealed how a similar project is taking place in Cambridge, whereby micro homes are being created to house rough sleepers.

It is believed that 150million people are homeless globally, with Manila in the Philippines the hardest hit with more than 3m sleeping rough.

Comparatively, Finland is the leading country to combat homelessness with their ‘Housing First’ strategy, helping to re-home people rather than offer temporary shelter.