Tiny container house is answer to homeless vet's prayers
Categories: Home Stories
A local organization has some big plans for some little houses.
But those little houses could play a huge part in making one local veteran’s dreams come true.
Margo Boyle was getting a close-up tour of a shipping container house set up by the Veterans Housing Development group Friday in Myrtle Beach. The house was part of the Veterans Stand Down event aimed primarily to assist homeless vets in the area.
Boyle, a very well-spoken lady, probably doesn’t fit the stereotype image most people have homeless folks.
But she says that’s exactly been her lot in life in recent years and she’s ready to change that. And she says these new small homes could very well do just that.
Container houses are part of a growing national trend of “tiny houses.” Specifically, these tiny houses are actually made from the shipping containers you see on cargo ships or trucks.
Horry County and local municipalities are trying to come up with revised zoning regulations to deal with these new smaller homes. Houses of this size don’t fit into regular zoning patterns or descriptions.
But when the zoning is put in place, the Veterans Housing Development group is ready to roll out a new neighborhood that’s designed to give homeless veterans a place to live and a chance to get a new start in life.
VHD has a plan to set up a Veterans Village, probably in the Socastee area, that will provide 40 or so of these houses for homeless vets from throughout the lowcountry. It will be a gated community with shipping container homes and services available to the vets that will help them become a viable part of the community again.
Standing in the demo unit last Friday, Boyle said she was amazed at how roomy the 12 foot by 40 foot house actually is.
“This is much better and newer than where I’m living now,” she said. “And I found out I’m eligible to live in one when they get them up. It’s a lot better than being homeless again.”
Boyle’s road to the upcoming homeless veterans village began in 1968 during the height of the Vietnam War.
She joined the Air Force and was stationed in Texas. As an information specialist, she worked on the base newspaper and got a chance to interview some interesting folks during her stint.
After her Air Force tour, she married and had a couple of kids, living in the Charlotte area.
But then life took some downward turns for her.
First came a divorce that left her without any spousal support at all. Then a stroke knocked her down for a while. She lost her job and then her home.
“It all just began to snowball out of control,” she lamented.
Needing a place to live, she moved in with her son and daughter-in-law. But their divorce meant she had to move out.
She then moved in with her daughter who later decided to get married which meant Boyle had no place to live again.
“I never would have dreamed I’d be homeless, but there I was,” Boyle said.
Then a VA caseworker in Rock Hill told her about a program available in Horry County that just might mean she could have a roof over her head instead of trying to find shelter anywhere she could.
“I qualified for the VA’s VASH program and now I have a trailer to live in near here,” she said. “It’s okay but I think this new container house will be more comfortable.”
The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program combines Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA provides these services for participating veterans at VA medical centers and community-based outreach clinics.
The Veterans Housing Development group is a non-profit organization based in Myrtle Beach that is working with a number of veteran assistance organizations to come up with the proposed Veterans Village. Currently, they are working on funding and grants from a number of local, state and federal sources.
Each container house will cost just under $15,000 to construct and set up.
“It won’t cost the vets anything,” said VHD staff member Kayla Wertz. “We’ll also work with local companies to provide employment for these veterans. It’s all about building back their self-esteem.”
The group will also be working with the Eastern Carolina Homelessness Organization. ECHO maintains an extensive database of homeless vets.
ECHO president Joey Smoak said there would be no problem in filling every home that is set up in the village.
“There are way too many homeless vets and we need to do everything we can to help them,” Smoak said. “This idea is very innovative because nobody else is doing something like this. We’re excited to be a part of it.”
Boyle finished her tour of what may be her new home with a big smile and a hug for her local case worker.
“This isn’t very big but it’s as good as a mansion when you’ve been homeless.”
via myhorrynews by Tom O'Dare