DOWNTOWN WEST – The first residents have moved into the tiny “village” being built near downtown for otherwise homeless people, and final touches are being made to the premises in advance of more arrivals in the coming weeks.
In November, Mayor Lyda Krewson announced the new initiative. The group of tiny houses will serve as transitional safe shelter for those who seek a better future away from the cold and unforgiving life on the streets.
Progress is being made on the tiny village, which will house about 50 men and women at N. Jefferson Avenue and Martin Luther King Drive.
The village is part of a new plan to widen the services available to needy people in the city. Krewson’s spokesman, Jacob Long, says the programs to aid the homeless were expanded to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19 and, more recently, the arrival of the cold season. The project was made possible by a $600,000 CARES Act fund that will see the program through its first year.
The yet-to-be named tiny village has been established at an old RV park just northwest of the downtown area. The village will have not only the 50 individual tiny homes but also a number of supporting amenities including laundry facilities, showers, restrooms and meals.
“We are currently screening individuals for that location, and more residents are expected to move in soon,” Long said. He stressed the city’s commitment to a housing-first approach.
“We’ve got to take care of our most vulnerable,” he said.
The premises will be guarded 24 hours a day, and social services will be made available by the Magdala Foundation as well as the city’s Department of Health and Human Services. The Magdala Foundation is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged individuals through support and residential services.
The initiative bolsters the city’s shelter capacity above 400 beds across its whole system, in addition to other shelters and aid programs.
Tiny house villages for the homeless have proven to be successful in other parts of the country, and they are largely viewed as another opportunity to help cities take care of some of their most vulnerable residents.