Building tiny homes for homeless veterans in Wisconsin

A non-profit group out of Rhinelander is planning to provide temporary housing to homeless veterans.
Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 10:42 PM CDT
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RHINELANDER, Wis. (WSAW) - A non-profit group out of Rhinelander is planning to provide temporary housing to homeless veterans. It’ll also provide more than just a place to sleep. In North Central Wisconsin, available resources for homeless veterans are scarce.

“I know there’s a lot of people out there that need help,” Northwoods Veterans Homestead President Gordy Edington said.

Now the Northwoods Veterans Homestead is trying to change that, by building 10x12 foot “tiny homes.”

“We can get them on their feet, get them a job, help them get an apartment and move them out,” Edington said.

Edington is a Vietnam veteran himself and owns an embroidery shop in Rhinelander. Right now, there are only two other places in the state that have temporary veteran housing including Racine and Milwaukee. The non-profit in Rhinelander would be similar.

The Northwoods Veterans Homestead is still searching for land to put the tiny homes. They hope to build at least 16 with a community center. They’re looking for at least five acres of land. The community center will have a kitchen, laundry, a recreation room and even on-site psychologists.

“We want them to have their own space, but be able to still visit with their peers and people that are going through the same thing,” Northwoods Veterans Homestead Vice President Carla Ruuskanen said.

Ruuskanen said veterans north of Highway 29 are often forgotten about. Vets staying at the homes will be given various chores to pull their weight like cutting grass, shoveling, or even cooking.

“Gives them a feeling of needed, being needed, that’s what it’s all about,” Edington said.

The plan is to have everything ready within five years, they’re applying to foundations of Wisconsin grants to help with building costs. Rhinelander High School already gave $1,000 to the project.

“Just warms your heart to see how many people want to help and I just can’t imagine where this is going to take us in the next five years,” Ruuskanen said.

The Northwoods Veterans Homestead is still working on a website to collect donations. They also hope to connect with homeless veterans that are part of Wisconsin Indian tribes. You can reach out to Carla Ruuskanen at (715) 367-5853 or carlaruuu14@gmail.com for more information.

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