Why are you building the village near the river, which has the potential of flooding?
The 5-acre parcel where we plan to build our village was generously donated to VOPA by a private family. The site was built up in the past when a steel mill was located there many years ago. A recent review by engineers found it to be above the 100-year flood plain. This fact, coupled with the proximity to other services the Veterans would need and the beauty of the location, made it an ideal site for the VOPA tiny village.
Why did you choose the tiny home model for the village and why aren’t you including a shower in each tiny home?
The Veterans living in the community will have various challenges to overcome in order to find their footing again. We believe having a safe place away from others in their tiny home where they can rest and sleep will be beneficial to their reintegration into a community. Part of this reintegration process will require the Veterans to interact with others within the tiny home community to give and receive support. Rather than make each tiny home self-sufficient, some of their needs such as laundry, shower, and kitchen facilities will be located in the Community Center to encourage interaction among the Veterans.
Why does it cost so much to build the VOPA tiny home village?
The site was the location of an old steel mill and hasn’t been used or developed since the mill was closed and demolished. Preparing this unique site for development has had some challenges and brings about several costs to do so. The process of consulting with experienced engineers and the county planning commissioners has led to the determination that it is feasible to build the tiny home village on this donated site. Modern utilities, water, and sewer must be run to the site, and we are working with the city of Harrisburg to ensure the village meets local codes and ordinances.
When do you expect to break ground?
We anticipate breaking ground in early 2022.
How is VOPA funded?
VOPA is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization and registered with the PA Department of State. The building project will be funded through a community-based Capital Campaign and on-going fundraising for operational support.
Do the Veterans own the homes?
The Veterans will not own the homes, rather the homes are designed for transitional support housing for homeless Veterans. Our goal is to end Veteran homelessness. The tiny homes provide stability, and the starting point the Veterans need to address the underlying causes of homelessness.
How will you choose the Veterans to live in the tiny home?
An application process will ensure Veterans are assessed based on their vulnerability/needs and will be prioritized based on those who are most vulnerable. We anticipate Veterans will be referred via many avenues such as friends, family, organizations, and self-referrals. To build trusting relationships, we will regularly conduct street outreach to identify Veterans who are currently street homeless.
What social services are provided to the Veterans?
Veterans will receive case management through VOPA a minimum of once a week depending on need. In order to connect the community to the Veteran and the Veteran to the community, we will partner with local companies, agencies, nonprofits, and individuals to provide the wraparound support needed to address each individual. This keeps the Veteran from relying solely on VOPA while showing them that they are capable and that the community cares.
How long will a Veteran be permitted to reside at the VOPA village?
Veterans are welcome to stay in the village as long as they continue to make progress toward their goals of permanent housing readiness. A VOPA Case Manager will work alongside the Veterans, at each Veteran’s pace, to develop a plan to help them find permanent housing and attain goals they have identified.
How big are the homes, and how many will you build?
VOPA’s goal is to create an innovative community of 15 tiny homes for homeless Veterans. The homes will be wood framing construction built on a concrete slab. They will range in size from 168 to 240 square feet, meet all local code requirements, and connect to municipal electricity and plumbing utility services.
What is the size and purpose of the Community Center?
A separate 6,000 sq. ft. Community Center will anchor the village with a large kitchen, a dining room to serve residents, lavatory and bathing accommodations, laundry facilities, counseling and therapeutic rooms, and administrative offices.
How will the Veterans Village be staffed?
VOPA plans on having staff on site 24/7 to ensure the safety of the Veteran residents.
What organizations will you be collaborating with?
We have met with and have received support for our project from the following entities:
Capital Area Coalition on Homelessness
Central Pennsylvania Food Bank
Dauphin County Veterans Court
Downtown Daily Bread
Just for Today Recovery and Veterans Support Services
YWCA of Greater Harrisburg
The Sherman Foundation
How much traffic do you anticipate?
Traffic to the site will be minimal once construction is complete. Basically, staff, volunteers, deliveries, and family during visitation hours.