The grassy patch of land on Covey Avenue in Oildale is mostly hidden behind a wooden fence that has seen better days.

But by this time next year, the vacant lot could be well on its way to becoming home sweet home to more than two dozen homeless veterans.

Think about that for a moment: They served their country yesterday. They're homeless today. They could be living under a secure roof tomorrow.

The project, dubbed Veterans Village, will consist of 12 so-called "tiny homes," green space and a common room with laundry. Each home is just 400 square feet, but includes a bathroom, kitchenette, bedroom and living area.

And plans are to build it from the ground up.

"A lot of veterans have come to us and said, 'How can we help?'" said Deborah Johnson, president and CEO of the nonprofit California Veterans Assistance Foundation, the nonprofit that is shepherding the project.

And that's good, because this effort is different, Johnson said. Most of the $300,000 needed is coming from a slew of local businesses and individuals. Donations of specialty services, from plumbing and concrete to electrical and roofing will help with construction costs.

"This is truly a community collaborative," Johnson said. "We need everything a house needs: stoves, refrigerators, sofas, beds, pots, pans, dishes ...

"We want these new residents to open the door to a new house."

The germ of the idea came from Tim Terrio of Terrio Physical Therapy and Fitness, Johnson said, and though the Veterans Assistance Foundation has taken the reins, Terrio remains involved through his Health Through Wholeness nonprofit.

In fact, the list of those getting involved keeps growing.

Terrio has long spoken about how important it is for Americans to make sure those who have served our nation in uniform are not living on the streets. And this project, if it works as expected, should inspire the sincerest form of flattery: imitation.

"If this works, it will become the roadmap for other providers," said Heather Kimmel, chairman of the board of directors for the Assistance Foundation.

"Others are watching," Kimmel said. "Waiting to replicate it."

On Covey Avenue in old Oildale, Victor Malloy lives across the street from the future village, and has since 1990.

Anything that helps homeless veterans is OK by him, Malloy said.

"The only thing that concerns me is the small-home thing. Could it cause my home to lose value?" he said.

"But it doesn't much matter, because I'm getting ready to leave this world anyway."

Malloy turns 80 on Saturday, and said he had a close call earlier this year. But when pressed, he admits he expects to see at least a couple more birthdays.

And as far as property values go, he doesn't really think he needs to worry.

"At least something will be across the street," he said.

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

(2) comments

REMUDA

Anything we try and/or do for vets here in Bako . . . works! And that goes for the new VA campus (TBD).

LogicalPOV

Does that include spanish-speaking Latino vets, Remuda? Because based on your other comments, you'd be willing to cut my stepfather loose. Fought in Vietnam, but originally from New Mexico (family dating back to when it was still Mexico). 1st language? Spanish. Still speaks English with an accent. But, he has the same Semper Fi bumper sticker that you probably do. And yet, you're happy to cut him loose because his skin is brown and his language is different than yours, aren't you?

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