Tiny Homes Project
Can tiny homes be a solution for ending homelessness? A growing number of faith-based organizations and local governments believe these micro houses can more quickly get people off the street and restore their dignity. As a result, tiny house villages are being developed nationwide to address homelessness.
Last spring, Celebrate Outreach began developing tiny homes to provide permanent housing for veterans and others experiencing homelessness in the greater St. Petersburg area. By developing low-cost, energy-efficient, housing units under 500 s.f., we will be able to provide very affordable housing alternatives for people working to achieve independence and self-sufficiency. Tiny homes will become a big solution for homelessness.
The University of South Florida School of Architecture & Community Design joined Celebrate Outreach as a collaborative partner for this project. Internationally-renowned research professor Josue Robles Caraballo recruited 16 architecture students to participate in a class he is teaching on this subject this semester. The students will be challenged to develop innovative and creative designs for these homes. Final designs were presented in May, and prototypes are being built.
Tiny homes will be placed on single-family house lots scattered throughout Pinellas County. Additionally, Celebrate Outreach will develop on larger plots tiny homes villages, which will include at least 10 tiny homes, a community center housing a commercial-grade kitchen, laundry facilities, and office and meeting space, and a community garden providing fresh, organically-grown produce for the village, our future food truck, restaurants and institutions and the nearby community. With the proposed name Eden Village, this sustainable micro community will provide opportunities for positive re-integration into the wider community.
A CO! Former Board President says, "It takes a community to build a village." Community volunteers are needed to help build the tiny homes alongside the veterans who will reside in them. Orientation and training will be provided periodically throughout this year, leading up to the community building events, which will begin during the fall of 2016.
"I love the excitement around the concept of tiny houses and the desire to house the homeless," stated St. Petersburg's Mayor Rick Kriseman. Going further, he said, "The city enjoys working with non-profits on meaningful projects like this."
Mayor Kriseman is not alone in his excitement. Dozens of concerned citizens have enthusiastically volunteered their time and talent towards this project. More than 50 people packed into (swah-rey), a cool and thoughtfully-designed dessert bar/restaurant on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg's Grand Central District, for the first Tiny Homes Project Volunteers Meet 'n Greet on Saturday, January 30th. Highlights included delicious desserts and coffee, networking among a diverse crowd of volunteers, presentations by representatives of various organizations supporting this project, including Michelle Cyr of AARP, and an emotionally-moving testimony by Megan Donahue, veteran who will be the first veteran to participate in our program. She will begin the six-month residential component, which will prepare her to help build and then move into her very own tiny home!
The veterans are excited, too! "This will give us the chance to restore our dignity and privacy, and have a place to call home," one interested veteran exclaimed. Not only will they get permanent housing -- an affordable home they may rent or purchase for a couple of hundred dollars per month -- but they will also receive supportive services such as therapeutic services for PTSD and MST and participate in restorative activities such as community gardening and entrepreneurial opportunities.
READ MORE ABOUT VETERANS BATTLING PTSD AND MST
Before moving into their tiny homes, veterans selected to participate in this project must complete a six-month residential training program in which they will matriculate through classes to prepare them to transition from homelessness to home. Class topics include homeownership, personal financial management, entrepreneurship, community gardening, healthy nutrition and more. Referrals of veterans to participate in this program are continuously welcomed and received.
To document how the tiny house movement has impacted the eradication of homelessness in the greater St. Petersburg area, Celebrate Outreach has teamed up with indie filmmaker Mike Nahat to create a documentary film about Celebrate Outreach's tiny home project. Titled "A Call to Service," the film's trailer will be released this spring to help with fundraising, and the full version was released in November 2016 during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.
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Here are some examples of tiny houses from around the nation. Which one do you like best?
"I love the excitement around the concept of tiny houses and the desire to house the homeless. The city enjoys working with non-profits on meaningful projects like this."
--Mayor Rick Kriseman
AARP Florida Encourages Help for Tiny Homes to Make a Big Difference
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