For more than two years, TODAY’S TMJ4 has followed the story of a village of tiny homes in Racine that was built to house homeless veterans.
The project, run by Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin, is now days away from producing its first success story.
61-year old Alexander Hill, who grew up in Racine, served in the U.S. Army for three years.
Late last year, he moved into home number 11 in the James A. Peterson Veteran Village.
At the time, Hill had no job and had just been evicted.
“I didn’t know where I was going. I was getting depressed, getting suicidal,” Hill said.
Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin allows homeless veterans to move into the tiny homes for free. Food is provided, as are complimentary programs ranging from art therapy to financial planning, with the stated goal of helping the residents secure employment and move out into stable housing.
The organization uses state grant money for about five percent of its annual budget. The rest comes from private donations.
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The village is currently full, and houses a total of 15 residents.
But in less than one week, Hill will move out.
He said he’s used the free programs offered at the veterans village to secure a full-time job at a nearby factory and begin saving up money.
On Saturday, he’ll move out of tiny home number 11 and into his own apartment.
“Each day, I’ve seen my life getting better and better,” Hill said. “I started believing everything was going to be all I wanted it to be and more.”
“That’s the point in my life where I’m at now,” Hill added. “I’m so grateful, because without this program I don’t know where I’d be today. I don’t know what would have happened to me.”
When Hill leaves, a different homeless veteran will be able to move into the tiny home he once occupied.
Hill hopes that person will be inspired by his story.
“If God did it for me, he can do it for you,” Hill said. “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you cannot succeed here.”