The Warrior Village Project in Fallbrook is providing affordable, permanent housing for homeless veterans with help from local high school students.
“We understand that a lot of veterans are homeless for a reason,” said Mark Pilcher, Director of the Warrior Village Project. “They have experienced trauma or a series of traumas. Focusing on the needs of homeless veterans seemed like a good place to start to address the broader issues of housing affordability and homelessness.”
The Warrior Village Project is building 400-square-foot cottages for homeless veterans or those veterans who are transitioning from a group home. The first cottage is scheduled to be installed in mid-summer, behind a transitional housing residence operated by Wounded Warrior Homes.
Wounded Warrior Homes provides transitional housing for 13 veterans at a time, and has a waiting list of veterans needing housing. The cottage will enable Wounded Warrior Homes to provide housing for more veterans.
Students from San Marcos High School primarily constructed the first cottage, before the coronavirus pandemic, under the watchful eye of their instructor Chris Geldert and other building trade professionals. Volunteers were then able to finish the cottage.
“I love the community outreach aspect, that we’re helping veterans,” said senior Angeline Witt, a student project manager. She recently was accepted into the construction management program at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. “That makes me even more proud to be working on this. My grandfather was a Rear Admiral in the Navy; missile projects he oversaw are still used on submarines today. He’s super appreciative that I’m doing this project.”
The first two cottages will be built at San Marcos High School. Geldert, Mike McSweeney from the Building Industry Association of San Diego, Jon Hill, and Alan Jurgensen from Associated General Contractors of San Diego, Rick Millwee, and Rick Hoehn from RM Plumbing, and Pilcher have been working to complete the cottages while students are staying at home due to the pandemic.
The organization hopes to build pocket neighborhood communities of 12 cottages and a community center throughout San Diego County with the needs of homeless veterans in mind.
“Wounded Warrior Homes was very positive from the beginning. They said, ‘Let’s talk about this and make it work.’ They have three (group) homes in the San Diego County area, where they provide transitional housing to veterans with PTSD or traumatic brain injuries," Pilcher said. "We will install the cottage as an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ‘Granny Flat’) to their home in the unincorporated area of Vista. A veteran will transition out of that group environment to our accessory dwelling unit. They will live alone in their own space, with their own kitchen, and will learn how to live with more independence. The next step would be to move back into the general community.”
Pilcher hopes students will be able to return to school this fall to complete the second cottage before Christmas and finish the third cottage by June 2021.
A "grand opening" for the cottages will be held when its safe to do so, Pilcher said.
For more information on the Warrior Village Project, click here.