Tiny houses have huge impact for veterans

Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram funded construction costs for the latest home for a veteran in the Denver-area.

CORNELIUS — The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimated nearly 40,000 veterans were experiencing homelessness on any given day last year. 

One organization is looking to change that. 

Purple Heart Homes, a charity that provides housing solutions for disabled and aging veterans, was founded in 2008 by John Gallina and the late Dale Beatty, two combat wounded veterans who served in Iraq. The nonprofit has since assisted more than 800 veterans and expanded to 13 chapters across the country. 

At its Statesville warehouse, the organization recently began constructing tiny homes for veterans struggling to find housing. While some are used as transitional homes for veterans seeking traditional living arrangements, most of the tiny houses serve as longterm homes. 

Layn Tallent, marketing manager for Purple Heart Homes, said the first tiny home built last year went to a 58-year-old Army veteran who was living in a dilapidated shed and would often bathe with the same water in a large metal tub for weeks. 

“We were able to assist her in acquiring a tiny home, and now she’s our biggest cheerleader,” Tallent said. “Having a place to lay their head at night is special because many veterans have been in homeless shelters, on the streets or in a shed, and now they have a place to call home.” 

The handicap-accessible homes include HVAC systems, plumbing, and are fully-furnished, Tallent said, adding that many wheelchair-bound veterans have trouble getting around their homes because they are not accessible to people with disabilities. 

“Everything has been designed so veterans with disabilities can navigate the homes with ease,” said Tallent. 

Most of the tiny homes have around 300 square feet of living space.

While the programs offered by Purple Heart Homes have given a handful of veterans a place to live, or led to much-needed repairs in their current homes, Tallent said the need for aid among former service members is much greater than most people realize. 

“The reality is, we have no idea how many veterans are out there that are homeless and have never asked for help,” Tallent said. “Many of them didn’t register with the government when they came home, and now they’re dealing with complications from Agent Orange or extreme PTSD, and they’ve never had someone to help them through it.” 

For more information about Purple Heart Homes, visit purplehearthomesusa.org.


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