tiny home

An example of a tiny home.

Photo: Nicolas Boullosa

A new neighborhood of tiny houses in southeast Wisconsin is giving homeless veterans a place to call home.

The Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin has built about 15 tiny homes in Racine, Milwaukee Public Radio reported. The homes are only 128 square feet but come furnished with a TV, mini fridge, microwave and a couch that doubles as a bed.

A nearby community center features bathrooms, a kitchen and laundry facilities.

“The need was brought to our doorstep,” said Jeff Gustin, the executive director of the veterans groups. “Once we started getting calls weekly from homeless veterans, we thought we had to do something to try and solve the problem.”

The housing program is “a hand up, not a hand out,” Gustin said.

Veterans can stay in the community for free for two years. Residents participate in a number of programs during their stay, including money management, therapy and alcohol and drug treatment.

“They’re working for this,” Gustin said. “This is a program that they enrolled into because they want to better their lives. So, we just want to give them the assistance to make that happen.”

Michael Lueck was the first to move into the community. The 64-year-old joined the army during the Vietnam War and while he never saw combat, disabilities have made it difficult for him to keep a study job.

“Some OCD and bipolar and severe depression, but I also have a titanium ball and shaft in my right shoulder so I have limited movement in my right arm and in 2013, I had three broken vertebrae in my back,” Lueck said.

Lueck had previously spent seven months sleeping on his son’s couch before he moved into the tiny home.

“I never had anybody try to help me out to this extent before,” Lueck said. “So right now, it just means the world to me.”

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