Tiny house community puts roofs over homeless veterans

Sanford Health supports housing mission with VCP Village of Sioux Falls

A tiny house painted Sanford Health blue with American flags out front sits on wheels in the VCP Village.

Veterans Community Project of Sioux Falls is breaking ground on its future home in the northwest part of town. The nonprofit is on a mission to end veteran homelessness. It contributes to the cause by providing a place to live and services offering support.

“We’re building 25 tiny houses with 10 of them being family units,” Eric Gage, VCP of Sioux Falls executive director, said.

Gage grew up in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota area and is a 12-year veteran of the South Dakota Air National Guard.

“One veteran living on the street is too many. We really strive to serve the entire veteran population and make sure that none of our brothers and sisters are homeless or at the risk of becoming homeless,” Gage added.

According to VCP, founded in 2015 by combat veterans in Kansas City, the veteran population is two times more likely to become chronically homeless than other groups of people.

Sanford Health sponsoring a house

Honoring veterans and active military, along with caring for them, is a high priority for Sanford Health and the Good Samaritan Society.

“Sanford Health is committed to being the provider of choice and the employer of choice for our military and veterans. How cool is it to be able to celebrate Veterans Community Project at Sanford Health?” Stacy Wrightsman, Sanford Health senior director of community relations, said at the groundbreaking.

VCP Village’s family units can sleep up to seven people. Individual units are 240 square feet and include a fully functional kitchen and bathroom.

“Sanford is sponsoring one of these tiny houses that’s going to, very soon, put a roof over someone’s head who needs it and also provide all of those wraparound services. So we can fully support and sustain these veterans and their families to transition into permanent housing,” Wrightsman said.

The homes will surround a “base camp” providing medical, dental and veterinarian offices. The center will also have a fellowship hall and other support services.

“Right in the heart of our village is our village center, which is a more or less a commercial office building. Out of that we will offer all of our services. It’s where we will work. It’s where our case workers will operate out of to serve our residents,” Gage said.

Currently, the average length of stay for veterans at other VCP villages is 10 months.

‘Support from community has been crazy’

Gage says the word “project” is in VCP’s title because the work will never be done. He adds it will need the community to participate to be successful. So far, so good.

“The amount of support from the community has been crazy. All of our houses have a sponsor.”

Gage is especially happy with Sanford Health’s involvement.

“We’re excited to have such a pillar of our community here in Sioux Falls to be part of our village.”

Site preparation takes place next, making way for construction afterward. Once that work is underway, Gage invites those interested in helping to volunteer at the village. It’s located at 376 N. Willow Ave. in Sioux Falls.

Learn more

Posted In Community, Sioux Falls, Veterans