After announcing last month that the Veterans Housing Coalition had exceeded its fundraising goal to sponsor a tiny home for a homeless veteran, group leaders on Wednesday got to present a check for $41,500 to Veterans Community Project.
The donation was among the momentum that has been building for the 26-unit tiny housing community that will offer support services and transitional housing to veterans facing homelessness. Construction began June 28 and could be seen continuing Wednesday as excavators hauled piles of dirt and rock to complete work on a culvert.
As the work went on in the background, Bonnie Finley, a coalition founder, passed the giant cardboard check to Paul Melroy, executive director of Veterans Community Project Colorado.
“This is amazing what you guys did at a grassroots level,” Melroy said. “This is not an easy amount of money to raise. There’s a great deal of appreciation (for your efforts).”
The Veterans Housing Coalition formed out of a 2018 resolution when Longmont City Council members voted to take part in a national calling to help veterans experiencing homelessness, called the Mayors’ Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness.
The coalition became a partner in the Veterans Community Project, with the goal to sponsor one of the tiny homes.
Helping to solicit funds for the coalition’s effort was the Longmont Community Foundation. Each tiny home costs $35,000 to sponsor, but, the coalition was able to surpass that amount by about $6,500.
Finley said they looked for every opportunity to promote and raise money for the project.
When Finley’s dad, Steve Nikkel, a veteran, turned 95 in February last year, he asked family and guests to donate money to the effort as a gift to him. His request garnered about $1,000 to contribute. The goal, Finley said, couldn’t have been exceeded, though, without the help of the Longmont Community Foundation.
Eric Hozempa, CEO of the Longmont Community Foundation, attended the donation ceremony Wednesday. As he faced the gathering of about half a dozen people, he said the foundation was “honored and proud to be affiliated” with the project.
“It’s part of what we do,” Hozempa said. “We help everyone in the community. I can’t think of a greater purpose than to help veterans who have done so much for our country, for our community.”
Melroy said the nonprofit remains about half a million dollars shy of its $5 million dollar fundraising goal for the village, but has made progress on securing sponsorships for about 21 out of the 26 homes. He added that more funds are also needed for the 3,000-square-foot community center, which will provide the village’s residents with case management and other support to help them obtain permanent housing.
Veterans Housing Coalition moved into a permanent Longmont location at 1228 Main St. in May. In addition to work on the tiny house community, the nonprofit provides an array of services to veterans, including food and hygiene kits, as well as rent and utility assistance.
The roughly two acres of land and infrastructure for the tiny house community is being donated by HMS Development. Kevin Mulshine, an HMS partner and member of the coalition, said workers at the construction site have been making progress on creating a 250-foot culvert, re-routing a creek and will soon begin to lay underground piping.
Project leaders are targeting the build for the tiny homes to take place late this year, with the hope of having the homes complete by late spring or early summer of next year. Habitat for Humanity will also be supporting efforts to build the tiny house community.
Melroy said Veterans Community Project is looking for volunteers to assist with the build. People who are interested can sign up on the nonprofit’s website at veteranscommunityproject.org/vcp-colorado. People can also donate to the project online.