by Emily Morrison
In the past year we’ve partnered with Settled, an organization working to build tiny homes for people experiencing long-term homelessness. Tiny homes are part of a nationwide movement to address homelessness. They are cost-effective, safe, beautiful and eco-friendly. Plus, they are a great way to love our neighbors!
As a part of our fundraiser last holiday season, we raised $25,000 to build Settled’s first prototype of a tiny home. Then, Woodland volunteers pitched in with others to help build the home so that churches and government officials could see the amazing potential this model has for cities.
Construction of this first home enabled Settled to reach many of their goals: successfully using volunteer labor, achieving safety certification, meeting Minnesota climate insulation standards, sticking to their budget and creating a manual for future construction teams to use. In other words, the house has made a great transition from theory to reality!
Now that it is up and running, Lil Peach, as the tiny home has been nicknamed, has been making a big splash as it has been introduced to thousands of people.
In the summer, Lil Peach made its first outing to a Lutheran youth gathering where 1,200 people were able to hear and see in person this innovative proposal. Also over the course of the summer, Settled discussed more logistics with county and city officials. In the fall, nonprofit leaders, lawyers, zoning administrators, clergy members, architects, business leaders, media, donors and community organizers had a chance to review plans for the tiny homes and catch a vision for future possibilities.
What Settled has discovered is that when people see the prototype, they see that tiny homes can provide high quality, dignified housing at an affordable price. As thousands of people have learned about tiny homes, the reception has been overwhelmingly positive.
So now what?
One faith community has expressed interest in being the first Sacred Settlement—a name for a community of tiny homes. This is a big step! In addition, Settled will continue conversations at the state level about changing laws to get Tiny Houses on Wheels (THOWs) recognized as permanent dwellings. This is necessary because Minnesota state law prohibits living in an RV year-round. However, Settled is following the lead of cities in California and Florida who have recognized THOWs as a separate category of housing suitable for permanent living. They are working to change building codes to re-designate THOWs as permanent residences here in Minnesota, too.
In the meantime, Lil Peach is still making the rounds, inspiring and exciting people, and opening up new solutions to helping those experiencing long-term homelessness. Thank you to everyone who has helped make this innovative concept come to life!