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Village of tiny houses for homeless veterans in Racine almost full

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A village of tiny homes built to house homeless veterans in Racine is almost completely full.

When non-profit organization Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin cut the ribbon on the Veteran Village late last year, veterans moved into four of the tiny houses.

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Now, 14 of the 15 tiny homes are occupied, according to Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin Executive Director Jeff Gustin.

“We have a couple applications we’re in the process of going through right now, and that house will probably be filled by the end of the week,” Gustin said.

Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin provides free housing and food to the residents of the tiny homes.

Gustin said the goal is to give veterans a place to stay, for up to two years, where they can focus on saving money and formulating a plan to find and maintain stable housing.

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The group’s approximately $280,000 yearly budget is covered almost entirely through private donations. Gustin said about five percent of the funding comes from state grants.

As more residents have moved in, programming at the community center in the middle of the village has picked up. The programs include art therapy, music therapy, money management classes, support groups for PTSD, and support groups for substance abuse.

Gustin said the activities at the community center provide needed assistance to the veterans, while also helping them prepare to eventually return to living on their own.

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“There’s the socialization aspect of it,” Gustin said. “If you’re going to be productive in society, you have to be able to socialize with other people.”

Veteran Michael Kane said he was homeless before he moved into one of the tiny homes in December.

He said interacting with the other vets at the village is therapeutic.

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“This little community, we all understand each other,” Kane said. “We’re all broken in some way, shape, or form. But our brokenness is healed among each other.”

Kane added he would not be able to access all of the help provided through the programs at the Veteran Village if he was still living on his own.

“Never in the deepest part of my mind would I have ever thought a community like this would be here for the veterans,” Kane said.

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