Veteran Proposes Revolutionary Housing Solution
Veterans, whether they have served a few years or several decades, face unique challenges when they re-enter civilian life. One of the most pressing issues facing veterans is finding stable, affordable housing. Many veterans struggle with staying in one job for an extended period, which can lead to constant job hopping and the possibility of homelessness. That’s where Sam Olcott, veteran, and founder of Troop 22, comes in.
Troop 22 is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to create a community to provide veterans with safe, affordable temporary housing. Olcott’s idea for the project dates to 2014 when he was in a career he didn’t enjoy, so he made a career move, which landed him in a different city. When he made his career leap, he found himself without a place to live. The one positive thing he had was owning a mobile home. However, many veterans don’t have that luxury.
Olcott’s original idea was to build tiny homes for veterans, but he quickly realized that he wanted to create a self-sustaining community. Troop 22’s mission is to provide veterans with a stable place to stay at little to no cost and help connect them to other resources they need. To keep this strictly a veteran’s community, Olcott devised a plan to have a portion of the veteran’s disability pay for the housing.
“No matter what the disability rating is, I can provide them a stable place to stay and Troop 22 takes a percentage of their disability to pay for the house,” Olcott said. “Veterans would only have to pay for their necessities, and the community would be fully self-sustainable.”
Olcott’s passion for the project is clear, and he’s already taken significant steps toward making his vision a reality. Troop 22 is a 501c3, and he’s secured donations to afford a lawyer and an accountant. The organization has also talked to several groups about fundraising. Olcott has a detailed plan for the project, including building 22 units and a community center, and he’s even talked to congressmen about getting grants to fund the project. He is currently searching for a five-acre property in or around Harrison, Ark. to turn Troop 22 from a dream into a reality.
“If someone would donate the property, that would be ideal,” Olcott said. “It’s a Catch-22 because it costs funds to raise funds, but we need more funds to make all of this happen.”
The plan is not without its challenges. Olcott has visited other temporary veteran housing, which face issues getting veterans into homes due to the complicated process of combining grants from the VA and HUD, sometimes taking up to 30 days to place a veteran in temporary housing though they may be in immediate need. Olcott believes that providing an immediate, safe place to live is the first step to helping veterans get back on their feet, and it’s something that he’s dedicating his life to do.
“I was able to retire early to work on this project and help other veterans,” Olcott said. “I can’t help every veteran with every need they have. But I have enough personal experience to have enough knowledge to know what they need. If you can provide not a handout, but a hand up, you can give a veteran an opportunity to figure out what’s next for them.”
Troop 22 is poised to potentially change the lives of veterans across the state. Olcott’s vision for a self-sustaining community that provides safe, affordable housing is inspiring, and his passion for the project is infectious.
This article was originally published in AMP News Online.