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It takes a village

Orting Veterans Village to help homeless vets

The Orting Veterans Village will be located at the Washington State Department of Veteran Affairs’ Soldiers Home in Orting. Photo credit: Quixote Communities

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Earlier this month, the Puget Sound Veterans Hope Center and Quixote Communities hosted a groundbreaking event for the new Orting Veterans Village -- a tiny house village -- to be located at the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs' (WDVA) Soldiers Home.

Established in 1891 for Civil War veterans, Soldiers Home is on a 181-acre campus with nursing and domiciliary facilities and programs for today's veterans.

Quixote Communities is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Its mission is to provide housing opportunities to homeless individuals. It currently owns and operates Quixote Village in Olympia, which opened in 2013.

The Orting Veterans Village, often referred to as the Village, will be home to 35 homeless veterans from Pierce County.  

A 2019 point-in-time count of homeless individuals in the county found that approximately 134, or nine percent, are veterans.

"We have seen so many successes at Quixote Village in Olympia and are thrilled to be able to bring this model of permanent supportive housing to veterans in Pierce County," Jaycie Osterberg, executive director of Quixote Communities, wrote in a press release.

The Village will be comprised of 35 tiny homes of approximately 180 square feet and one 2,500-square-foot community building. 

Capital funding for the Village is being provided to Quixote Communities from the Washington State Housing Trust Fund, Pierce County, the Federal Home Loan Bank, the United Way and the Housing Authority of Pierce County.

In addition, the Village's project team consists of MSGS Architects, Buchanan General Contracting Company, JMJ Team, Carriage Houses, and Community Frameworks.

The homes will provide veterans with a safe place to sleep, and the community center will feature a kitchen with community pots, pans, dishes and utensils, food storage (to include multiple refrigerators), a multipurpose room for television viewing and planned activities, a dining area, laundry facilities, a rotating library and offices for the program manager and resident assistant.

"We will not only provide housing, but these individuals will have one-on-one staff support as well as a built-in community surrounding them," continued Osterberg.

The Orting Veterans Village is modeled on Recovery Housing, an approach that uses substance use-specific services, peer support, and physical design features to support individuals in recovery from addiction.

Aligned with the model are requirements that must be met for a veteran to receive and maintain housing.

The homeless veterans must be living in Pierce County. Background checks and drug screenings will be required prior to admittance to the Village, and potential residents cannot have any outstanding warrants, a recent history of violence, or have a sex life term offender registration.

As a member of the Village, residents will pay 30 percent of their income as rent and sign a lease agreement stating they agree to abide by Village rules, to include no use of marijuana, alcohol or illegal drugs.

Residents can stay as long as they want and receive staff support, peer mentorship and the benefits of living in a community.

"We plan to partner with the WDVA and local resources in the community to provide a variety of services to the villagers," continued Osterberg.

Some of what is planned by staff members are individual and group therapy sessions, a regular hair dresser/barber, quarterly nursing interns, life skill classes, employment workshops, gardening, nutrition help, veteran support groups, participation in community events, group walks, recovery meeting and weekly community dinners.

"This is not the answer for homelessness; it is an answer for homelessness," said Osterberg.

The Orting Veterans Village is scheduled to open in the summer of 2020.

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