Stay at Home Solutions blogs on topics such as aging in place, universal design, adaptive equipment, home modifications, accessibility, durable medical equipment, legislation, and caregiving.
Tiny Homes for Veterans in KC!
Veterans deserve to stay at home! And what better way than to live in a community of tiny homes?
The Veterans Community Project (VCP) created a tiny home community in south Kansas City for homeless veterans. The community provides on-site services to help "address the underlying causes of the veteran's homelessness." Services include counseling, case management, and connecting veterans to other local resources to promote housing stability.
Now the goal is not for the veterans to live in the tiny home community forever. This is a transitional home where the veteran lives while working a self-paced program to assist with reintegration into civilian life. So the timetable on the length of stay varies from person to person.
Let's talk about the tiny homes for a second: they are 240 square feet each! They are true to the definition of a tiny house! The houses sit on a slab of concrete and, of course, have all the modern conveniences of electricity and running water. VCP plans on building more tiny homes in the future to assist more veterans in the KC metro.
After snooping through some pictures of the tiny houses, I happily discovered VCP implemented some accessible features. I see zero-step front door entries, lever-styled handles on the front door, lever-styled kitchen sink handle, and stove and oven controls located on the front of the appliance. There is a window next to the front door so veterans can see who is coming to visit before opening the door.
The kitchen lower cabinets have doors that swing out which may allow enough room for a person to sit underneath the sink while washing the dishes or prepping a meal at the counter. This gives an opportunity for the veteran to conserve energy.
I like that the houses have a lot of windows to allow natural light into the home. (Remember, natural light makes us healthier and happier!) The tiny houses have great color contrast between the flooring, walls, furniture, and cabinets making it clear to see for veterans with low vision. Also, the houses are easily customized. One of the tiny houses has bunk beds stacked three high for children to visit! Astounding!
It does not seem like all of the tiny houses have the accessible features I listed above. But I do have some additional thoughts for the future for new construction and remodeling of the existing units!
One thing I noticed is the community has a gravel walkway. It would be worthwhile to replace the gravel with a paved sidewalk that is five to six feet wide. This would allow people, including wheelchair users, to navigate the neighborhood.
Installing barrier free showers would improve the safety and longevity of a veteran's ability to independently bathe in the tiny house. Even though the houses provide 240 square feet, the design could be more open concept to allow wheelchair users or people who use canes or walkers to safely move around during every day activities. For instance, wheelchair users would need at least five feet of turning radius to use the toilet. Creative professionals, like myself, can help design privacy features to maintain dignity for open concept tiny houses.
The last suggestion is building raised garden beds to make it easier for veterans with chronic back pain or fatigue. Gardening allows veterans the chance for gentle exercise, social participation, sense of purpose, and to feel good every day!
I love to see this tiny home community in Kansas City make a huge difference in the lives of the people who deserve it the most! Thank you to everyone involved with VCP and to veterans who serve this country!