Jefferson City Today, Governor Mike Parson attended a land dedication event for a new Veterans Community Project campus in St. Louis. The campus will include a village of tiny houses for veterans experiencing homelessness as well as a Veterans Outreach Center to provide walk-in support services for any veteran in the St. Louis metro area.
Governor Parson and the General Assembly included $2.5 million in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget for veterans homelessness prevention efforts such as the Veterans Community Project (VCP). VCP was founded in Kansas City, Missouri, by a group of combat veterans to help bridge the gaps of a broken system that leaves many service members behind.
“As a veteran myself, I care a great deal about the quality of life of our Missouri veterans, and no veteran should ever be without a home,” Governor Parson said. “While we can never repay the sacrifices they have made, we can support them and show our thanks through programs like the Veterans Community Project. We are excited to see the program expand and commend all of the partners involved to make this happen and provide critical services for our veterans in the St. Louis region.”
According to a recent “point in time” count, over 300 veterans experience homelessness in the St. Louis region. Many more were uncounted, currently living in secluded camps, couch surfing, sleeping in cars, or hidden in plain sight. Studies show that the veteran population is twice as likely to become chronically homeless than other groups of people.
The St. Louis project is based on VCP’s Kansas City model, which has already served more than 4,100 at-risk veterans and successfully transitioned more than 40 formerly homeless veterans into permanent housing since its opening in 2018.
“Everywhere VCP goes, we save lives,” said Veterans Community Project President Jason Kander, Afghanistan veteran and former Missouri Secretary of State. “And thanks to strong partnerships at the state and city level, we have the opportunity to serve our brothers and sisters in St. Louis, as well.”
Located on a 5-acre property in the heart of St. Louis, the VCP campus will consist of 50 tiny homes ranging from 240 – 320 square feet and a VCP Village Community Center. The community center will serve as a “base camp,” providing case management services, education, health and wellness programming, and social activities for veterans living in the village.
The Veterans Outreach Center will serve as a one-stop shop for any veteran in need of support services, such as emergency rent and utility assistance, food and hygiene kits, employment support, military documentation, benefits navigation, and case management.
VCP – St. Louis is developed in partnership with the City of St. Louis, Missouri Veterans Commission, and Veterans United Foundation. VCP is expected to begin housing St. Louis veterans in fall 2021.