It was a win-win for Lee County and the local 2x4s for Hope chapter that provides “tiny homes” for veterans in need.

After a required public hearing, during which there were no public comments, Lee County Supervisors gifted 11 county-owned apartments in Fort Madison to the nonprofit.

“What we would do is go in refurbish them and then reach out to veterans on fixed incomes where they are paying a lot in rent. Our goal to to provide affordable housing to veterans,” Lester Kistner, who runs the local chapter with his sister, Stephanie Warner, told the Daily Democrat last week.

The properties, now officially owned by the local Iowa 2x4s for Hope chapter through a quit claim deed, include 313 Ave. G, 615 and 617 Third Street, 325 Ave. G, 327 Ave. G, 331 Ave. G, and 329 Ave. G — all just north of the former Sheaffer Pen building.

Kistner said three of the apartments are currently occupied, but the tenants will not be displaced.

“We would work something out with them, but most of the units are empty,” Kistner said, adding that half of the rent money will be used to maintain the apartments, while the other half will go toward building the tiny homes.

Mondayſ transaction made the local 2x4s for Hope chapter the first to take on outside property ownership as a means of funding its main mission – the construction of the tiny homes for homeless veterans.

Kistner and Warner, along with several volunteers, made history last June as well when constructing the first 2x4s home in Iowa, which is located at the corner of 29th Street and Avenue J in Fort Madison.

After it was constructed, the keys to the new home were turned over to Daniel ‘Josh Torres.

Torres did two tours in Iraq and came to Burlington from Pennsylvania, and while he works full time, he ended up homeless and received temporary shelter from The Salvation Army.

The lot on which Torres’ home was built is one of two lots given to the nonprofit by the City of Fort Madison and Kistner says fundraising efforts indicate construction of the groupſ second home will be in late April.

Last week, he said to date, $40,000 to $45,000 of the $60,000 needed has been raised, however that was prior to a benefit breakfast for the cause that was held Saturday at the Fort Madison Eagles Club.

“We won’t have a final tally until the 11th, but I know it was at least $4,000, I’m sure of that much,” Kistner told the Daily Democrat on Tuesday.

The food was provided by Fort Madison Fareway so that all proceeds could go to build the groupſ second tiny home that will be located right next door to Torres’ home.

A signature piece of the 2x4s for Hope organization consists of encouraging and welcoming messages to the veteran that are written by those attending events and fundraisers on boards that are then used in building the home.

Kistner said they are trying to start groups in other communities such as Burlington, Keokuk and Mount Pleasant.

“We gave a presentation to the Burlington Rotary Club and they seem really interested, and Chad Bird, the city manager, is going to put us on an agenda soon so we can talk to the city council.”

That is exactly how things began two years ago in Fort Madison – a presentation to the city council, getting property donated by the city or another entity, and then raising $60,000 for building materials, furniture, appliances – everything to present a fully-equipped house to a homeless veteran.

But Kistner expects things to move a bit faster in Burlington. For one thing, he says the houses, referred to as “tiny homes” that measure 576 square feet with an open floor plan, will fit with Burlingtonſ current zoning ordinances. In Fort Madison, the city council had to amend zoning laws to allow for the smaller size.

“We already fit Burlingtonſ minimums, so we won’t have go through that hurdle there,” Kistner said last week.