HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - In June, Foundations for Tomorrow founder Nicky Beale first developed a proposal to bring tiny homes to Huntsville. The idea was sparked by her love of the concept and the closure of Tent City.
"The first outline that I wrote on the project was June 15th," said Beale, "so it's been five months and four days and now I'm building a tiny home."
With the help of UA Huntsville's Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and Huntsville's homeless advocates, the volunteers set out with a goal to provide a more permanent structure for the city's homeless.
Volunteers began construction on the first of 30 8-by-16 tiny homes Wednesday. It will serve as a model for the group to help promote community awareness.
Despite the demand for the homes, Foundations for Tomorrow is currently working with city leaders to secure one acre of land near Clinton Avenue in downtown Huntsville to develop a tiny homes village. The desired location is close to public transportation and homeless services.
"The community pushed for it before we got the land," said Beale. "We're going to start building them and it will be up to the city to provide a place for us to put them."
For the time being, volunteers are building the homes on trailers, so they can be easily moved. Once the land is acquired, the homes will also require zoning variances from the city.
Active Adult Properties donated the work site, which is located at Villas at Timbers Edge in Hampton Cove. The community's developer, Angela Mokhtari, also helped to orchestrate the donations of building supplies, as well as labor.
"It's amazing," said Mokhtari. "I never thought that I would have so much support from my vendors and my subcontractors."
Crossroads Building Supply donated enough materials for the 30 proposed homes, including doors, windows and lumber.
The structures require no electricity or plumbing, but they are equipped with spray foam insulation, which was donated by 31-W Insulation. They will also feature vinyl flooring and vinyl siding.
"The weight of the house has to be considered when moving it and so originally we had thought about a hardiplank siding," said Mokhtari, "but vinyl will be lighter weight and it will be no maintenance for the person who ends up living in this home."
Recipients of the homes also helped in the building process.
"That's part of the whole goal is to have them learn the life skills to support themselves," said Beale, "so they are involved in each one of the builds."
Veteran Jack Daniels is the first in line to receive a tiny home. He served in the Navy for more than nine years and moved to Huntsville to help clean up after the 2011 tornadoes.
After years of living in a tent, he will finally have four walls and a roof of his own.
"It's like winning the lottery," said Daniels. "It's not $5 million, but it's a good three or four grand at least."
When his home is complete, Daniels said the first thing he will do is "clean out my tent and move my stuff."
Foundations for Tomorrow will display its model tiny home in front of Huntsville City Hall Thursday. The group plans to discuss its progress with city council.
If you would like to donate money for the purchase of trailers or your time to help build this tiny home project, click here.