Fifth Street Ministries staff, board members and community supporters participated in a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday for a new tiny homes development that will provide housing for homeless veterans.

Work has already begun to prepare the site behind the nonprofit’s Statesville campus for the installation of four new tiny homes. 

“We are grateful to this community,” said Michele Knapp, executive director of Fifth Street Ministries. “We would not be here without the support we receive.”

Purple Heart Homes is donating the new tiny homes, which will be placed atop four foundations. Todd Ellis Builders Inc. is handling all of the site work, and Ram Pavement has made significant in-kind contributions to the project.

Fifth Street Board Chairman Joe Mazzola said the initiative is a critical part of the nonprofit’s mission to support homeless veterans.

“We’re making this vision a reality,” he said. “Our veterans served us. This is one way we can serve them.”

Lamar Austin, a project manager for Purple Heart Homes, said the nonprofit is proud to partner with Fifth Street Ministries.

Purple Heart Homes has completed 1,300 projects to help ensure aging and combat disabled veterans have safe housing since the organization was founded by local veterans John Gallina and Dale Beatty in 2008.

“Their vision and mission continues to grow,” Austin said.

Fifth Street partnered with the Statesville Housing Authority and the Piedmont Veterans Assistance Council to open a home for veterans on Shelton Avenue in 2016. Two tiny homes, which were also donated by Purple Heart Homes, were installed behind the nonprofit’s facility two years ago.

Since 2016, 44 veterans have participated in Fifth Street’s transitional housing program. Nearly 90 percent of those veterans now have permanent housing, Knapp said.

Veterans receive case management, transportation and other services as they begin a journey to self-sufficiency.

“This program provides everything they need to move from homelessness to housing,” Knapp said.

City Councilwoman Doris Allison said the tiny homes will be a blessing to individuals who are struggling.

“This is another step. People need homes,” she said. “We need to keep something in place where people can feel like they belong.”

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