Community Solidarity in the Fight Against Homelessness with Tiny Houses


Homelessness in the United States is a real issue and one that most Americans don’t want to consider. According to the Point-inTime count (updated on July 28, 2021) from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), roughly 580,000 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States. Non-profit and community organizations are considering tiny houses and different alternative housing options as a way to pull together in solidarity and fight against homelessness. 

homelessness by state

At Alternative Housing Options, we have been following a Tiny House Village being developed in the local area of Oshkosh, WI. This Tiny Home Village is a collaboration between the Oshkosh Kids Foundation, Wisconsin Partnership for Housing Development, non-profit organizations and 15 local contractors who have donated time, materials, and labor to bring the village to life. 

As of January 2020, the USICH estimated that “Wisconsin had 4,515 experiencing homelessness on any given day, as reported by Continuums of Care to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Of that Total, 558 were family households, 337 were Veterans, 193 were unaccompanied young adults (aged 18-24), and 611 were individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.” According to the ALICE Report, Oshkosh was identified as the city with the fastest increase in extreme poverty in the last seven years. 

The goal of the tiny house village is to provide safe, stable housing for families experiencing homelessness. Along with housing, the community center will offer services and education to the residents so that they can incorporate into their lives. 

They will take RentSmart to become a better renter and classes on financial literacy to help them prioritize living costs and learn employable skills. They will also learn how to maintain a home environment so that they will be reliable and responsible tenants when they graduate from the housing program. 

Updates on the Tiny House Village

Community center

The community center has a roof, walls, windows, and the framing of all of the offices and rooms in the center. While we were on site, they worked hard to finish the framing. The plan is to have the community center finished by December 1st and ready to serve the residents. Two maintenance garages are installed in the corners of the property for on-site maintenance and storage. 

maintenance garage

The tiny homes

The tiny houses will be delivered to the site by the end of next week, approximately September 9th. These will be installed on compacted gravel for interior construction to be completed. The tiny house plans have changed since its inception. Because the homes have very little storage other than the bedroom closets and a front closet, the build now includes a shed for each tiny home. The shed will allow residents to store any belongings they own while living in the village. 

There has been some exciting news about the interior furnishings for tiny homes, leading to cost savings. Jake’s Network of Hope is helping furnish the tiny homes. They will provide mattresses, window furnishings, towels, bedding, rugs, and small kitchen appliances for approximately $400 a house. 

pour in place rubber flooring

Instead of carpeting, laminate, or hardwood, a pour-in-place rubber flooring (PIP) will be used for the floor. This poured-in-place rubber flooring is durable, easily repairable, slip-resistant, easy to clean, and mildew-resistant. It can be cleaned with soap and water. The PIP will be poured over in-floor heating to help keep the home warm in the winter. Area rugs can be used in larger areas for a comfortable feel. 

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency for the village has also been updated. We had reported that the homes would all have solar heat and heat-traced floors. A donation has now upgraded the solar panel. Special brackets have been provided that will allow the panels to move with the sun during the day. 

The solar panels on the houses and the panels installed next to the retention pond are projected to create enough energy to sell back into the system and cover the heating and cooling for the homes and the community center. 

Fundraising efforts for the village

There will be a fundraising ball on October 15th, 2022. This ball will be one of the larger fundraising efforts for OKF and the Tiny House Village. 

OKF has also been approached by a donor offering a match of funds up to $250,000, which needs to be secured by December 31st. They are working hard to get the word out to other organizations who have taken an interest in the project, such as JJ Keller, US Venture, The Community Foundation, and Thrivent, about the match and the possibility of helping secure the funds. 

The main fundraising goal is to have all funding secured by January 1, 2023. 

OKF has been actively writing grants for funds. Many contractors and businesses already involved in the project have offered in-kind donations or discounts on services and materials. They have also offset some costs by selling back topsoil that was extra for credit toward the landscaping. 

Through a grant from United Way, the on-site case worker’s salary will be paid for a year until the village can fill its homes and start bringing in the rental income from the units. The caseworker will run the village and be trained by ADVOCAP. 

Local faith-based groups have reached out to offer help and support for the village once residents are in place and during turnovers of the units. 

OKF is also coming up with other opportunities for the community to help support the residents and see the village succeed for future families. They are working on programs to possibly adopt a house and provide Christmas presents or thanksgiving dinner. 

Changes in the community

With a new month beginning and school starting in NE WI, Oshkosh Kids Foundation has received many phone calls from local families who have received eviction notices. OKF worked with a few landlords to keep the tenants in place for one more month. During that time, the tenants must do their best to find better employment and work on cutting costs so they can pay their rent next month. 

The main concern is that the children will become homeless and not attend school due to the uncertainty in their lives. It has been documented that homeless children do not attend school regularly. If a child can at least go to school, they can be identified as being in crisis and be enrolled in community services. 

The tiny home is an excellent concept for alternative housing and affordable housing that can be used to combat homelessness. Whether done on a large scale like the village in Oshkosh or on a small scale, people in crisis need homes where they can move in, lock the door and feel safe enough to renew their hope and spirit. That is what the village will ultimately accomplish. 

Eva

Eva is a freelance copywriter specializing in all things real estate, B2B, PropTech, ReTech, CRETech. Owning rental property herself, Eva's love of real estate has turned into a passion for alternative housing options and educating people about the different types of housing available.

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