These Tiny Homes Could be Life Changers

Sometimes, it takes a village.

Nov 7, 2022


These Tiny Homes Could be Life Changers | Sometimes, it takes a village.

Tiny homes are gaining in popularity all across the US. Whether they are backyard homes for aging parents, lodging for youth, or homes for people who have been living on the streets, these small homes are helping make housing available to underserved populations.

Now Salt Lake City, Utah is building a tiny home village for people who have been chronically homeless. The city council recently approved a project, one year after it was proposed and after many months of public input, reported Deseret News.

The village, which is modeled after a successful program in Austin Texas, will be built on city land and leased to the nonprofit The Other Side Academy for just $1 a year.  But the village will do much more than just house people who have been homeless for at least a year.

The village will be “permanent, beautiful, self-reliant community for the chronically homeless that does more than provide a house,” Joseph Grenny, chairman of The Other Side Academy board, said during the tiny home’s first public unveiling in August 2022. “Its purpose is to change lives.”

It takes a village
The homes will be located on the west-side of the city and the first pilot phase will build 85 homes that will occupy about eight acres. Of these, 54 will be for residents and six homes for staff, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Each of the tiny homes will range from 280 to 400 square feet and will have a sitting area, small kitchen with sleek modern appliances, bedroom, and bathroom. The furnishings were donated from Denton House.

The residents will have to pay rent to stay in this drug and alcohol-free village and the units will be leased for 12-months. The nonprofit will help the residents find jobs – there will be social enterprises onsite like a bakery and a thrift shop –, to receive social security disability, or rent vouchers.

“It may be small,” Tanya Takoda Peatross, who has gone from a life of couch surfing to now taking part in the Other Side Academy’s program in her journey toward self-sufficiency told Deseret News. “But this could do. ... I could definitely live here.”

There will be an additional 25 nightly rentals modeled on Airbnb that will generate some income for the village, according to Deseret News. There are plans to include community buildings like a medical clinic and a small market. The village will also offer social services including mental health treatment and substance abuse counseling.

Different phases
While The Other Side Village organization expects that the first residents will move in during the summer of 2023, the plan is to ultimately build 430 homes on all 40 acres. But, while the city has approved the first phase, there are performance metrics that must be met before more homes will be approved.

Salt Lake City’s mayor Erin Mendenhall told The Salt Lake Tribune that the city was still fine-tuning the contract, factoring in feedback from the public and council. The city will be able to increase the lease amount or back out of the deal if the requirements are not met.

The administration saw the plan as a way to reduce the cost of public care for homeless residents, to free-up badly needed shelter space, and to create a way to provide secure housing for the underserved. It is also hoped that the project will encourage more development in the city’s west side.

But Grenny is confident that the community will be a success. We will be true to the trust. In coming months and years, we pledge to our new neighbors that the neighborhood will be more vibrant, more prosperous and even more beautiful because you have allowed us to come.” He told the Salt Lake Tribune.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.