“It takes a village to make a village,” say the backers of Orting Veterans Village, a development that will encompass 35 tiny homes for homeless veterans clustered around a large community building. It is being built in Orting on a 5+ acres. The parcel is leased from the Department of Veterans Affairs at its Washington Soldiers Home, a 181-acre campus in the Puyallup Valley that was established in 1891 for veterans of the Civil War.
Groundbreaking at Orting Veterans Village took place last month, with completion slated for mid-2020.
A group of dedicated real estate professionals is supporting the endeavor by raising funds to help furnish the cottages and community building.
Kelly Hendrickson, president of the Tacoma Chapter of the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP) and the designated broker at Better Properties Summit in Puyallup, said the chapter – the only active one in Washington state – has raised about $3,000. That’s enough to furnish two tiny homes, but Hendrickson said their fundraising efforts are continuing in hopes of furnishing additional homes. (See box on how to help.)
Basic furnishings in each home include a bed frame and mattress, desk, chair, dresser drawers, and storage shelf.
The community building will encompass a spacious double kitchen, dining area, multipurpose room, staff offices, and laundry facilities. Jaycie Osterberg, executive director at Quixote Village, said they are seeking donations of couches, tables and chairs for the dining area, and office furniture for the community building. The organization’s website outlines various ways to donate.
The 35 future occupants will be homeless veterans living in Pierce County. Residents will pay 30% of their income in rent, sign a lease agreement and code of conduct, pass a criminal background check and drug test, and agree to abide by Village rules, including not using alcohol or illegal drugs on site.
An array of support services will be provided, including:
- One-on-one case management
- Peer mentorship
- Help with services and resources in the community
- Recovery meetings
- Mental health therapy (individual and group)
- Employment and educational services
Quixote Communities received capital funding from the Washington State Housing Trust Fund, Pierce County, the Federal Home Loan Bank, the United Way, and Project-Based Vouchers from the Housing Authority of Pierce County. They also received support and land from the Washington Department of Veteran Affairs.
In addition to the funding partners, the project team includes MSGS Architects as the architect, Buchanan General Contracting Company as the general contractor, JMJ Team as the civil engineer, and Carriage Houses NW as the modular manufacturers.
Orting Veterans Village is modeled after Quixote Village in Olympia, a community of 30 small cottages that opened in 2013 to serve low-income individuals who had previously experienced homelessness. The homes measure 144-square feet units and have a half bath, standard ceiling height and electricity, and are heated and insulated.
Orting Veterans Village is a joint undertaking of Quixote Communities, the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Puget Sound Veterans Hope Center.
Quixote Communities, whose mission is to provide housing opportunities for people experiencing homelessness, will operate and manage the Orting project. The Olympia-based organization is in the early stages of developing another village for veterans in Shelton.
The Puget Sound Veterans Hope Center has been instrumental in developing the Orting project and will continue as a supportive partner for the village.
Community Frameworks (CF), a nonprofit affordable housing developer that also worked on Quixote Village (QV), is the project’s developer. CF has offices in Spokane and Bremerton and is a NeighborWorks® America Chartered Member. In 2015 the organization published “Tiny Houses: A Permanent Supportive Housing Model,” a 20-page white paper that uses Quixote Village as a case study for its model of supportive housing.
NeighborWorks, a nonpartisan nonprofit whose official name is Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp., works with other nonprofits by providing technical assistance, financing, access to training, or by developing affordable housing for them.
About the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP)
Established in 2011, the USA Homeownership Foundation, Inc. dba Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP), is a non-profit 501(c)(3) and HUD-approved housing counseling organization dedicated to increasing sustainable homeownership, financial-literacy education, VA loan awareness, and economic opportunity for the active-military and veteran communities.
Hendrickson said her chapter is organizing a fundraiser on November 20 at Pacific Northwest Grill in Puyallup and offering a “Duty To Serve” VA home loan course on December 9.
Washington state is one of five states where more than half of homeless veterans were unsheltered in 2018. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says the number of homeless veterans increased in 14 states between 2016 and 2017, led by Washington with a 41 percent jump. However, that number decreased the following year. As of January 2018, Continuums of Care reported 1,636 veterans in Washington experienced chronic homelessness.