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50 ‘tiny houses’ for homeless veterans planned for north St. Louis

Retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Ken Preston, AUSA vice president for NCO and Soldier Programs, right, and Army veteran Chris Stout, a founder of Veterans Community Project, tour the site where 13 tiny homes have been constructed with 13 more underway. (THE ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY/Released)
October 22, 2020

A Kansas City-based nonprofit plans to build 50 so-called “tiny houses” for homeless veterans on a mostly vacant site off North Grand Boulevard.

The homes, the majority of them totaling about 240 square feet, would serve as transitional housing for occupants.

The complex, on a nearly 4-acre site along Aldine Avenue west of North Grand, would be modeled after one started in Kansas City in 2018 by the sponsoring Veterans Community Project.

Case workers and a walk-in clinic would operate out of two nearby buildings to be built as well. The goal, backers said, is to find permanent housing for the residents and to access other needed services.

“We don’t charge any rent,” former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who heads the organization’s expansion efforts, told a St. Louis aldermanic committee Tuesday via teleconference.

“The average stay is 262 days but we don’t have a cap.”

Bryan Meyer, the organization’s founder and CEO, said a dedication ceremony is planned for Oct. 16. The nonprofit also is working on a similar effort near Denver.

Kander said the organization operates almost entirely on corporate and foundation donations. However, he said it expects to get some aid from a veterans care fund set up with fees from the state’s medical marijuana licensing process.

Meyer said it’s hard to put a dollar value on the St. Louis project because the organization has gotten help building its homes from volunteers and discounts on construction costs.

Otis Williams, a top St. Louis development official, said much of the site is being sold by the city’s Land Reutilization Authority to the nonprofit at a nominal cost.

In addition, another parcel on Aldine owned by the city would be transferred to the group for $250 under a bill pending before the Board of Aldermen. The veterans’ group also bought one home that was occupied, Meyer said.

Kander has said the group assisted him when he dropped out of the Kansas City mayor’s race in 2018 to seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder related to his service as an Army intelligence officer.


© 2020 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch