Ordinance changes brings new hope to vet housing project

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - A Wichita Falls non-profit is one step closer to reaching its goal of housing homeless and at-risk veterans.

The North Texas Veterans Relief Fund Base Camp Lindsey Project, tiny home project, has been in limbo for more than a year due to city zoning regulations. After city council made changes to Planned Unit Development District (PUDD) on Tuesday, the project has started to gain some momentum again.

To qualify for PUDD, sites had to be at least five acres but now it only has to be three. The tiny home project is three and a half acres.

"We were going through that the past few months, you run to the city and they say you can't do that," Chris De La Garza NTVRF Vice-Chair of Board of Directors said. "[We say] okay, let's go back and try again."

De La Garza said they can now set a concrete building plan and find out how much money it will take to construct it.

"We go from just an idea to an actual concrete plan that we can actually start to talk to contractors," De La Garza said.

Gaylord "Skip" Creichton, a 71-year-old U.S. Air Force and Vietnam War veteran, said it brings hope to several veterans in the city like himself. Creichton suffers from several illnesses like bladder cancer, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Pneumonia

"It makes you feel hopeless at times," Creichton said. "If it wasn't for [Faith Mission] here, I would be living outside, sleeping outside. When [the veterans aren't at Faith Mission], they're living in the dumpster or under a bridge."

Creichton said with the project moving forward he is excited what it could mean for veterans like him.

"They then can go there and find themselves a job, find their family and reunite," Creichton said.

The changes made to PUDD also mean more structural alterations to the site for the better. Two-car parking spots for each home are not required anymore.

"That makes a big difference in our budget but [we do not have] to take up so much room just for parking," De La Garza said.

She said the extra room would mean more tiny homes for veterans.

"[We can] actually provide services for the veterans we'll take care of instead of just a bunch of empty parking spots," De La Garza said.

De La Garza next week said she will meet with planning and zoning officials to present the project and apply the project for PUDD. If approved, then they will do the same thing in front of city council next month.

She said it may cost at least $500,000 to complete the project and the non-profit has raised $15,000.

NTVRF will hold the Base Camp Lindsey Frontier Days, a fundraising event, on April 21.

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