CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Friday is Veterans Day, and we are honoring our military veterans who have made sacrifices serving their country.
Some, including our homeless veterans, continue to sacrifice and go without due to a variety of circumstances. The Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless is working to get a whole community of "tiny homes" built to help homeless vets in the area.
There are more than 200 veterans in Chatham County without a roof over their heads this year, and they're living in camps peppered throughout the community. The Homeless Authority has been spearheading the Tiny Homes Project, aimed at fixing that problem by pursuing this "housing first" initiative.
"Not being able to work constantly, ended up out here for a while. And hopefully we'll be out of here soon," said Kenneth Fox, a homeless veteran.
A Navy veteran, Fox is not eligible for benefits through Veteran's Affairs. He is, however, through the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless.
"They are living with many more significant physical issues. And the combination, especially for those who don't have housing, is very problematic," said Chatham-Savannah Authority of the Homeless Director Cindy Murphy Kelley.
"Regardless of where we are, or what situation we find ourselves in, we served our time. We put our lives on the line or were willing to put our lives on the line every day for this country. No matter that we're out of the service, we took an oath to defend this country and we did this to the best of our ability," Fox said.
A group out of Fort Stewart and the Chatham County Sheriffs Office have committed to help build the first of the tiny homes. The authority director says they are continuing to look for partners, private and public donors, to help those who have already given so much.
"I think it's important to honor our veterans. They have provided significant sacrifices for our country, but the fundamental thing we need to support them is a place for them to live. If we can do that, if we can give them a place to live, then the other issues, the other challenges that they face will diminish, and we will have the ability to work with them," said Kelley.
They're working to secure funding for the $1.6 million endeavor.
"Without a place to live, as you saw with Kenneth, and you see with others, they don't have a place to shower, they don't have a place to use the restroom. There are mosquitoes and snakes. This is not the way to treat our veterans," said Kelley.
Kelley says there's lots of interest to fund individual homes, but the biggest hurdle right now is getting the infrastructure on the 3.2-acre plot in place.