Solar panels installed at village of tiny homes for veterans in Racine 'expected to save 86% of utility costs'

RACINE -- From the moment they were created in Racine, tiny homes have helped tackle big problems -- giving veterans facing hard times a warm place to stay, with a door to opportunity.

The James A. Peterson Veteran Village and SC Johnson Community Center are located at 1624 Yout Street in Racine -- where veterans who are homeless are housed and supplied with all the tools needed to break the cycle of homelessness and help them to once again become productive members of society.

FOX6 News back in November of 2017 told you about the opening of the village, billed as the first-of-its-kind in the country.

Mark Whittington

"This was a great place for me. It came to me at a time in my life when I needed it," said Mark Whittington. "Vets need this help."

In the midst of the 15 tiny homes sits a community center where programs are held. The area is also a focal point for residents. It's where the kitchen, recreation area, restrooms and showering facilities are located.

"I love it," said Whittington. "Very nice."

Veteran tiny home community in Racine

Jeff Gustin

The facility is also green.

Jeff Gustin, co-founder and executive director of Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin said thanks to Walden III High School students, the building is energy efficient.

"We are running on solar power," said Gustin. "Kind of exciting!"

The students spearheaded the project -- hosting fundraisers.

"They searched out grants for us. Got private donations," said Gustin. "They covered probably 80 percent of the solar. We kicked in to finish the project up and have it installed."

The project cost $52,000, but the savings from 60 solar panels on the roof will be substantial.

"It's expected to save 86 percent of our utility costs for the community center," explained Gustin.

Each penny is beneficial to the nonprofit.

Solar panels installed at village of tiny homes for veterans in Racine

Veteran tiny home community in Racine

Veteran tiny home community in Racine

"Finances are a struggle, and the money that we can save on utility costs will go back to the programming to help them get back on their feet and recover from homelessness," said Gustin.

The lucky vets are able to enjoy brighter days in more ways than one.

"We are grateful to have the support," said Gustin.

The solar panel array is expected to operate for at least the next 25 to 30 years.

You can learn more about the Veteran Village by CLICKING HERE.