Tiny homes help homeless veterans
By WAYNE CRENSHAW | The Macon Telegraph | Published: September 1, 2019
MACON, Ga. — Five people now living on the streets in Macon will soon move into brand new, pastel colored tiny homes.
Meanwhile in Warner Robins, construction is expected to start soon on a tiny home community for seniors and military veterans in need.
On Maynard Street in Macon are five new houses built for homeless people who are under going mental health treatment at River Edge Behavioral Health or other providers. Four of the homes are 350-square feet and another one is a 400-square foot handicap accessible unit.
The homes have recently been completed and the first residents are expected to move in after Labor Day, said Nykhia Burke-Cummings, director of permanent supportive housing at River Edge. She said the homes will make a big difference to those who will live there.
"I think it will give them a chance to really focus on their mental health and their recovery and just live and get integrated back into the community," she said.
The homes were built in partnership with Macon-Bibb County using a federal grant. The rent is paid with a Georgia Department of Community Affairs grant, and that will go toward upkeep of the property, managed by River Edge. Burke-Cummings said the units cost about $50,000 each. It's possible more could be built in the future, she said.
Meanwhile, in Warner Robins, another tiny home community for people in need is being planned. The Warner Robins Housing Authority has gotten approval to build 15 tiny homes in an area off North Davis Drive that was formerly occupied by Oscar Thomie Homes. Many more could be on the way, as the housing authority has applied for a grant to build 161 homes there.
Sheryl Frazier, housing authority director, said the homes are for seniors and low income military veterans. The homes are being built by Community Housing and Development, the non-profit arm of the housing authority, and will not be public housing, she said.
She said tenants will be accepted based on income, but income will not have to be as low as for public housing. The details of that and how people will apply are being worked out.
She said the homes will allow seniors to feel like they have a home of their own that will be easy to maintain and give them a little gardening space.
"Traditional public housing sometimes doesn't meet the needs of seniors," she said.
She said there are still some issues to work out with the city on infrastructure before construction can start, but she believes work will begin in the next month or two and the homes will be finished by the end of the year. The Warner Robins City Council recently passed new rules on housing standards that will allow tiny homes to be built in the city.
The homes will be 400 square feet and will cost about $40,000 each, Frazier said. The construction is paid for with federal funds and private donations, Frazier said.
For years tiny homes have been a growing trend across America as people look to downsize and simplify, but just recently the movement seems to be gaining traction in Middle Georgia. A tiny house festival was held in Macon in February and the owner of Safe Haven RV Park off Pio Nono Avenue is planning a tiny home community there. He is also working with a woman who plans to start a tiny home manufacturing facility there.
In Milledgeville, Allen Childs says he has the area's only tiny home dealership, called Tiny Houses of Georgia. He says he sells about one home a month, to all sorts of people, but he said tiny homes are particularly popular with people over 50.
"The older you get, the less stuff you want to worry about maintaining," he said.