Racine & Me: Tiny homes serve bigger purpose for veterans
RACINE, WIS (CBS 58) -- Almost 40,000 veterans are without a shelter in the U.S. on any given night. But for the last few years, the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin has been working to reduce those numbers here in the Badger State.
On Yout Street in Racine you'll find the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin. Behind it, you'll find a tiny town of even tinier homes. Each of them is built with a bigger purpose-- to help struggling veterans get back on their feet. The first was constructed in 2017 and now village consists of 15 different homes. Zachary Zdroik is a veteran and the vow's executive director--who says he could have used these resources when he got out of the Marines.
"I was struggling like most vets to reintegrate into the world and I was hopping around different jobs When I got involved in the veteran community it arguably saved my life. There are so many veterans out there-- Here in Racine alone we have 13000 In southeast Wisconsin we have about 50,000."
One of those 50,000 is Randall Strametz, a resident of a tiny home there.
"When I was 19... my wife had died, and that mixed with the PTSD from Afghanistan was a whirlwind of emotions I could just not handle. I gave up on everything I lost my business my house I ended up homeless. My dad is a resident here he told me about the place, and I got a call from Zac, and I was a resident a week later I was up from Illinois and wasn't homeless anymore.. it was a godsend really."
The grounds have a community center and food market. Inside the tiny homes, you'll find the basics-- but most importantly.. a safe place for Veterans to lay their heads at night.
"I see myself in a lot of these vets it's extremely gratifying to see them succeed. Cause when veterans come in here a lot of the times they're almost at rock bottom."
The homes are sponsored by different organizations, like Riley Construction. Ben Kossow is the company's president who says they felt called to step in and help.
"We have these tiny homes and some of them were in disrepair, and I have carpenters, masons cement finishers, laborers, so I have these guys and our company wants to serve our communities."
A community making this support possible in the first place.
"The house needed repairs and within a week, Riley stepped up and took care of it. Now, we have a veteran lined up to take this home."
Veterans can stay in the tiny homes for up to two years. Some already feel hopeful about what they thought was once a grim future.
"Ever since I was little, I wanted a family, and this is giving me a chance to be so levelheaded I can actually have that one day. I signed up for college going to utilize the GI bill finally and they actually gave me a job here working across the street working in the warehouse as donations come in and organize them and put them on the shelves. It's giving me income and a base to grow from. For veterans… no matter how dark it gets there's always a sunrise."
To learn more about the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin, click here.