Tiny House Project provides relief for homeless veterans

Veterans Voices

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Tucked away on Dundee Street in Savannah sits 23 miniature homes. This community is The Tiny House Project — a housing initiative for homeless veterans. The project is the first of it’s kind in Georgia.

According to the Chatham Savannah Homeless Authority, there are roughly 280 homeless veterans in Savannah — the second most homeless-populated region in Georgia. The Tiny House Project is expected to lower that number.

Executive Director for the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless, Cindy Murphy Kelley, says the Tiny House Project is the most cost-effective way to serve a population that is likely to end up in unregulated homeless camps.

“PTSD, brain trauma, or substance abuse or mental health, they drop out a little bit. And then life falls apart. And then they end up in our homeless numbers, which is unfortunate,” Kelley said.

There are 35 unregulated homeless camps that are currently active within Chatham County.

The Chatham Savannah Homeless Authority recently completed phase one of the project, which housed 12 veterans in July. Eleven additional veterans will be moving into tiny homes in the coming week.

Kenneth McNeal served in the Army National Guard for 24 years. He says once he finished his service, it was difficult for him to find a job with his disability, which left him homeless.

Now, he’s been living in his tiny house for four months.

“She told me it was a tiny house and I said, ‘Well, God, that’s really good.’ You know because I was just looking to move anywhere. Just to have a place to stay,” McNeal said.

Eventually, there will be 72 tiny homes available for veterans in need — equipped with full kitchens, bathrooms, and a bedroom — all within 26 square feet.

Two hundred and forty dollars a month covers rent and utilities and provides enough money for the project’s operating costs.

“I know I can always come home now,” McNeal said. “That’s the biggest issue. And I can afford to pay the bills. I’m not worried about how I’m going to eat.

“I have everything everyone has in their house, it’s just tiny. And that’s perfect. At the end of the day, that’s what matters.”

McNeal says the community has formed a strong bond that supports one another.

“It’s just like being back in the military, really. Because everybody looks out for each other and it’s a good thing,” he said.

Other options for Homeless Shelters in Savannah. Click here for the interactive map.

The tiny homes have reached capacity, but the Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless says phases two and three will be completed within the next year.

“They’re no longer homeless,” Kelley said. “They’re just veterans living in their housing.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.