Churches Use Tiny House Movement to Aid the Homeless

Image: Larry McCormack
Image: Larry McCormack

In Nashville, Tennessee, six brightly-colored, 60-square-foot homes dot the property of Green Street Church of Christ. But their occupants aren’t fashionable trend-setters. They’re homeless folks who have found shelter in tiny houses.

In addition to four walls and a roof, the homes offer Murphy beds, laminate flooring, and a door that locks. Even better, they provide residents, some of whom used to live in tents, an address to put on job applications.

Green Street Church began allowing the homeless to pitch tents on its property several years ago, but ran into trouble with Nashville zoning ordinances. While that matter hasn’t yet been legally solved, a privacy fence has settled things down with the neighbors.

Having people move from tents to tiny houses, which are rent-free, should help even more.

“[Tents] aren’t really made to be lived in,” Caleb Pickering, a deacon at Green Street Church, told CT.

The homes were set up by a local nonprofit and the church keeps an eye on them.

“We have the right to go in and make sure they’re being taken care of,” Pickering said. “It’s trickier with tents. Tiny houses also present a better face to your neighbors.”

The tiny house movement sprouted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when 308-square-foot Katrina Cottages were developed as an alternative to FEMA housing. The popularity of the ecologically-friendly houses, which cost far less to build and maintain than a standard house, grew during the recent recession.

Last year, the American Tiny House Association was formed. At the same time, the structures made their television debut, with Tiny House Nation on A&E and Tiny House Hunters on HGTV.

The stylish look of the tiny houses makes it easier to gain support from neighbors who don’t normally work with the homeless.

“They don’t look like they’re slapped together,” Pickering said. “They look nice.”


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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra