Kansas City's Veterans Community Project knew their homeless veterans didn't have many options: they were either going to spend the rest of their lives poor or end up in jail.
So they took matters into their own hands: with the help of the city's citizens, banks, trade unions, stores, local government officials, lawyers, and more, they literally made them their own town, reports The Kansas City Star.
"On any given night in Kansas City there are 130 to 200 homeless veterans who sleep on the streets, in the cold, under bridges, in the woods," one of the initiative's co-founders, Chris Stout, said. "These are the people who took the oath and were willing to die to defend our Constitution of the United States of America ... we are providing housing with dignity."
For the past two years, the Veterans Community Project has reportedly worked on creating the tiny Missouri town. It not only boasts homes but offers veterans classes on how to budget money, cook, stay healthy and overcome substance abuse issues.
The 240-square-foot homes contain all the necessities, from a kitchen to a bed and even climate control, but can be customized to suit each individual's needs. The veterans are allowed to live rent-free and can stay six months or a year.
While the majority of the 13 homes built so far are single units, four include facilities for veteran families, as well. They reportedly plan on adding at least 19 more homes, as well as building a community center for the residents.
"One of the vets was sitting out there last week, watching the houses get built and was in tears," Veterans Community Project co-founder Mark Solomon recalls, reports American Web Media. "Literally just crying about the fact that he was going to be moving into one of these houses. That's real. That's what makes this all worth it and yeah, it's a ton of time and a ton of effort, but we're gonna be able to help these people."
Other veterans were just as emotional after taking a first look at their new homes.
"Today is a momentous day for me," said Marvin Gregory, a veteran of the Army National Guard and the Coast Guard, at the town's ceremonial ribbon cutting on Jan. 29. "I'm very happy. These guys have been great. Now I'm going to have my own house and my own keys."
"This is a blessed day for me," added Michael Koch, a Marine veteran. "I can't wait to see my new home."