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'They’re giving me a chance' | Tiny homes created for homeless veterans in Statesville

As of Jan. 31, over 180 veterans are homeless in Mecklenburg County. Nonprofits and other local organizations are working to find them affordable, permanent housing.

STATESVILLE, N.C. — For several years, people have sought solutions for veterans facing homelessness

The most recent data shows that as of Jan. 31 of this year, a total of 183 veterans were experiencing homelessness in Mecklenburg County. 

Of that number, 36 are considered "chronically homeless," meaning they have been homeless one year or longer, or four times in the past three years.

While there's still work to be done, nonprofits and other organizations have been stepping up to make sure those who served our country have a roof over their head. Charles Lee Hewitt is among the thousands of veterans battling homelessness. 

“It was real hard at first," Hewitt said.

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There's now a new push to get those veterans in tiny homes. 

“It’s an affordable and a more permanent solution for veterans to live out their best lives," John Gallina, CEO of Purple Heart Homes, said.

On a small piece of land in Statesville, across from Fifth Street Ministries, veterans get a shot at a new home. 

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“I appreciate that they’re giving me a chance to do this," Hewitt said.

Fifth Street Ministries partnered with Purple Heart Homes to create two tiny homes. They kept it small for a reason.  

“The tiny homes we find as a solution because it's financially achievable," Gallina said. "It's manageable but more important, it’s a traditional home. It’s not just a small shelter or a tool shed that's been converted to a home. It allows the veteran feel that they are part of the community," Gallina said.  

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Hewitt will soon be one of its first residents. The tiny homes serve as a transition before veterans can find more permanent housing. 

For Hewitt, it's not just a new home. It's a new lease on life.

“To say I got a home on my own," Hewitt said. 

Fifth Street Ministries and Purple Heart Homes say they plan on building more of the tiny homes in the future. 

Contact Lexi Wilson at lwilson@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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