Singleton Services Building Hope For Homeless Veterans
By Floyd Alvin Galloway
Homelessness in Arizona is an extreme problem. The number of homeless veterans in this country and the state of Arizona is a stain on the fabric of this country’s mantra of democracy and liberty. For those who are the shield, to protect our democracy and liberty, to be homeless and not receive adequate services is shameful.
According to government estimates, there are 57,849 veterans homeless on any given night. Forty-one percent of homeless veterans are between ages 35 and 54.
Though 92 percent of homeless veterans are male, the number of female Iraq and Afghanistan veterans experiencing homelessness is increasing, as is the number of homeless veterans who have dependent children.
Elizabeth Singleton, president of Singleton Community Services (Build Us H.O.P.E.), is building a solution to address the high number of homeless veterans and others, and increase the number of options for affordable housing.
Build Us H.O.P.E. is the outreach and construction development arm for Singleton Community Services providing supportive housing.
August 19 and 20, Singleton’s Build us H.O.P.E. broke ground at 11th Avenue and Madison in the middle of the densely populated homeless area for her Tiny Home Project model site.
Just blocks from the State Capital, volunteers from around the Valley and university students from GreenLight Solutions Foundation’s sustainability program, began work in the early morning as inquisitive homeless citizens passed by, wondering what was going on.
“I’m very excited,” said an enthusiastic Singleton during the groundbreaking for the project. I’m thrilled we are finally here after two-half years.
This is our model home site, where we will have two homes to use for education and awareness and a community garden.” said Singleton.
She noted they have several locations around the valley they are building on. The Madison location is to give people an idea, especially governmental officials and community leaders, of what can be done to combat the homeless issue and affordable housing.
Jesus Lopez and Sergio Martinez who have construction experience volunteered their services. One of the early arrivals Lopez stated they heard of Singleton’s need for help on Facebook and contacted the organization.
Nikki Bagley another volunteer, also jumped at the chance to help. She explained she was beginning her own Tiny home project, but when she heard of Singleton’s project she decided to help her anyway she could. “Her train was already moving down the track. So instead of diluting the resources, I took the village approach and joined her to assist in making progress.”
Veterans high rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injury, and sexual trauma, which can lead to higher risk for homelessness.
About half of homeless veterans have serious mental illness and 70 percent have substance abuse problems. Half of homeless veterans have histories of involvement with the legal system.
Singleton knows about homelessness, because she had experienced it at one time herself. She has made it her mission to help the homeless, advocate for affordable housing and mental health resources.
Singleton Community Services has 98 acres and plans to build 1,500 homes. “Our homes range from 300 to 500 sq ft. The 500 sq ft. homes are two bedrooms. So you can definitely have a small family.”
Mike Partanna, owner of Dream Builders: Uncharted Tiny Homes partnering with Singleton Community Services for a fundraiser Tiny House raffle to support Build us H.O.P.E’s commitment to help fight homelessness in Arizona. All proceeds will go towards BUH Tiny House master community “The Village on 35th” a 22 Micro (Tiny) Community.
The initial phase of homes will be for veterans explained Singleton. “We have 450 homeless veterans in Maricopa County area. So we are definitely focused on them and those who are mentally ill. But we are creating this to unclog the gap of affordable housing.”
Singleton knows there is a dire need for affordable homes in the Valley. “We need more affordable housing and that is our goal.”