Veterans Community Project brings home back to veterans in need
Recently, Veterans Community Project (VCP) had the honor of protecting the home of a 72-year-old Vietnam Veteran, Tom, with six combat medals to his name. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Tom’s business shut down and he soon found himself unable to pay bills for the first time in his life. He was overwhelmed with stress and fearful of losing his home. Many people associate VCP with their tiny house village, but a large part of their work is helping a Veteran regain their footing when life has knocked them dangerously off balance. After meeting with Tom, one of the case managers made arrangements to pay his rent, coordinated resources with another agency to help with his utility bills, and had him registered at the VA to start connecting him to his benefits. Tom was able to resume his work, and his case manager is optimistic that he will be just fine. “I doubt he’ll ever need us again, but he knows we’re here.”
Veterans Community Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation founded by a group of combat veterans in Kansas City, Missouri who resolved to stand in the gaps of a broken system that left too many of their brothers and sisters behind. They aspire to use Kansas City as the blueprint for achieving similar successes in cities across the United States. Their long-term goal: eliminating Veteran homelessness nationwide.
VCP provides critical support services for Veterans through the Veterans Outreach Center and VCP Village. The Veteran Outreach Center (Troost) is a walk-in center that assists all Veterans with navigating the VA and their benefits, identification services, mental and physical health referrals, financial counseling, and employment supports among other services. The VCP Village (89th Street) is an innovative community of 49 tiny houses for Veterans experiencing homelessness. A tiny house provides new furniture, appliances, housewares, bedding, food, and utilities. All of this is free of charge to the Veterans. More importantly, VCP Village provides sanctuary and the emotional space needed for the Veteran and VCP’s specially trained Veteran Support Services team to thoroughly address the underlying causes of their homelessness.
Within a few days of the city-wide shutdown from COVID-19, VCP coordinated resources to provide meals for homeless and at-risk individuals at partner agencies throughout the metro area. Heroes at Cerner/Company Kitchen and Operation BBQ Relief cooked 45,330 meals, alleviating a lot of fear for those facing the pain of hunger. Food was graciously provided by partners such as Sysco, Loffreto Fresh Foods, Roma Bakery, Belfonte, Smithfield, and others. VCP also helped organize a city-wide hub at Hope Faith where multiple agencies pooled resources and served together to provide food, health screenings, and case management. This activity was instrumental in helping prevent the spread of the virus throughout one of our city’s most vulnerable populations.
On May 4th, VCP launched the COVID Response Program for Stabilization (CORPS). CORPS provides financial assistance and case management to Veterans experiencing a significant financial setback due to the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are prioritizing assistance to those who have lost their primary/only income and are at risk for homelessness. Most Veterans only need a single “refueling” to carry them through the end of a furlough period or to the beginning of a new job. For those who need additional support, their case management team tailors a program that provides job skills training, financial literacy classes, or coordinated aid from our trusted partner agencies. Once each Veteran stabilizes, they track their progress for the next 12 months.
Because of this pandemic, VCP anticipates receiving more than four times the number of emergency assistance requests than they received last year. VCP passionately believe that anyone who took the oath to protect our homes shouldn’t be without one themselves. Given the current economic climate, many Veterans are at risk of becoming homeless over the coming months. If you feel called to donate or would be interested in volunteering in the future, please visit their website at VeteransCommunityProject.Org.