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Turning shipping containers into housing for SC’s homeless veterans

cslate@thesunnews.com

Getting homeless veterans off of the streets.

That’s the goal of the newly formed nonprofit Veterans Housing Development Corp., an organization that plans to take an 8-foot-by-40-foot shipping container and turn it into a home for veterans who don’t have one.

“Anyone notices and sees homeless veterans on street corners and in tent cities around the Horry County area, and around the country,” said Brad Jordan with the nonprofit. “The whole premise of this is that we don’t have homeless vets. ... I have a passion for this because I hate seeing veterans out there on the streets.”

Jordan, a service disabled veteran, said Veterans Housing is working with the Myrtle Beach Vet Center, New Directions and other agencies that help veterans and people who are homeless.

“There’s a lot of funding available for veterans housing, but not a lot of housing available,” he said.

A crew is refurbishing a shipping container into a one-bedroom home that will be on display Saturday during the Tee-Off for Veterans golf outing at the Legends Golf Resort in Myrtle Beach.

Jordan said the group’s goal is to create a gated veterans village somewhere in the Myrtle Beach area.

“We want to provide a secure and safe environment with programs that are going to assist the veterans,” he said. Those programs would focus on things such as job assistance, medical services and provide a place for veterans to receive mail. “We want to make something that is able to be duplicated elsewhere.”

He said it also is possible for individual homes to be placed on a piece of land to serve one veteran.

The cost to build the village isn’t yet known because officials haven’t determined where in Myrtle Beach it will be built, so they don’t know whether roads and other infrastructure would already be in place or whether they will have to pay for it to be installed, Jordan said.

Jordan said he is working to get buy-in from the community, asking Myrtle Beach City Council on Tuesday to keep them in mind as they move forward with the project.

“This is in its very early stages of talking to benefactors of people who are willing to help, donate or sell land [or in other ways],” said Councilman Wayne Gray, who also is on the board of directors for the nonprofit.

Jordan said he hopes to be able to identify a piece of property for the potential veterans village, adding that there really was no way of knowing how long establishing the community would take until the group knows where it will be.

A person who is homeless and a veteran qualifies for one of the refurbished homes, Jordan said. Both individuals and families would be accepted, with larger homes being created by putting two shipping containers together. The process for moving into one of the homes hasn’t yet been determined.

“If we build 40 [homes], there would be 40 filled tomorrow,” he said. “The need is there.”

Once veterans are in the homes, the group would work with them to help them find work – if they’re still able to do so - get necessary medical attention and some even could move out of the village, Jordan said.

“It depends on the situation of the veteran,” he said. “It could be a veteran who is going through school right now. Or it could be a veteran who was in the Korean War. So the homes could be transitional or permanent depending on each person.”

For now, he said the group is just aiming to get help and guidance from Myrtle Beach to make sure the homes are built to proper code and finding a place for the veterans village.

“Our next step is to locate property,” he said. “Then we’ll know where to go from there.”

Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or on Twitter @TSN_mprabhu.

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