First ‘tiny home’ nearly complete for Huntsville’s homeless

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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.

12 comments

  • Nuclear Mike

    Does anyone really believe the occupants will ever perform maintenance on these “tiny homes”???
    These homes are better than a nylon tent for sure, but everything that went on before in the tents will happen in these homes. If these homes are not fireproof then expect the opportunity for carbon monoxide poisoning in such small air tight quarters…as good judgment cannot be build into these homes for the occupants.

    Good intentions are great, but without constant management by authority on a daily basis this will just become a squatters’ camp like the Great Depression ripe with all the already known bad habits & hygiene as before.
    No one can change the personalities & mental health of those expected to actually live there for very long.

    • Dog Lover 319

      What is the alternative? Personally, I think it makes perfect sense to have a small community where everyone in need of assistance can be together in one safe place. One of the challenges of helping the homeless is physically getting to them to provide them with help (social workers, food, warm clothing, etc.). Yes, there will be issues, but will they be any worse than the challenges that are facing us right now? Criticism without suggestions for a reasonable alternative is useless.

      • Nuclear Mike

        Most all of these homeless require constant professional mental health attention/care, and if there is to be no free clinic staffed by professionals available to them, then this tiny home village experiment will be just that…another experiment that will temporarily “look good” without the 100% commitment of the State of Alabama to provide such health services.

    • Dog Lover 319

      I completely agree that Mental Healthcare system in this state is paltry and inadequate at best, not just for the homeless but even for those with “good” insurance (if such a thing exists anymore). Alabama is not alone in that distinction – the entire country is faced with this problem. It just seems wrong to do nothing and wait around until the state is able get its act together and come up with an adequate solution to the lack of mental healthcare.

  • Excelerator

    I agree with Nuclear Mike that the concept is good but if not managed, a “squatters camp” will emerge…..sadly, the tiny home project is just re-packaging an existing problem, not solving the problem. The City and DHI are working diligently to promote revitalization of the downtown. Does it really make sense to add a “tiny home city” to the downtown? How does this help improve and revitalize the downtown corridor?

    • Nuclear Mike

      You are correct.
      This Tiny Home village will have to be like the Mission…iron fences, secured gate with a guard for entry…24/7/365.

  • SmellsLikeProgress

    Seems to be a plethora of First Stop worshipers here. Don’t be upset that you get paid money by the government to help the homeless yet fail miserably at it. You have no idea idea about the homeless because you haven’t rolled up your sleeves, gotten dirty and made an effort to get to know them. This will work. It will be fine. Security is handled. It’s backed by every one including the police. It’s worked all over the world. Give it a rest already!

  • Deebs

    “We’re going to start building them and it will be up to the city to provide a place for us to put them.” Sooo.. this hasn’t even been approved by the City? It’s expected that the City provide land, maintenance, enforcement, and zoning variances, but it is not expected for Foundations for Tomorrow to follow procedure. Nobility is lost when one cannot abide by the law.

  • David

    So we want the homeless to live without plumbing or electricity? Is this really a good choice when one considers the illnesses spread by human waste?

Comments are closed.

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