Tiny homes provide big confidence for homeless

Published: Oct. 1, 2019 at 5:09 PM CDT
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Charities have been building tiny houses, for people experiencing tough times. Tuesday, the Chippewa Falls City Council will look at expanding their presence in town.

The project started back in 2016, two years after the last homeless shelter closed in Chippewa Falls. Since then, the project has taken off. Now, local churches are proving that a house can be a home - no matter how big or small.

"Often if you're homeless, there is a stigma attached to that," said Michael Cohoon. Cohoon is the Landmark Christian Church Youth & Outreach pastor

Because of that stigma, some churches in Chippewa Falls are providing tiny homes for the area's homeless population. The tiny homes act as a springboard towards financial and housing independence.

"Our contracts are only for 7 days at a time,” Cohoon said. “They have a navigator and two mentors that help them work through what's called a secure living plan. As long as guests are working on working forward through that secure housing plan, we extend.”

Cohoon says he decided to look into tiny homes after meeting a high school hockey teammate, who was struggling to keep a roof over his head.

“I was thinking what my goals should be for the year and I thought 'well maybe we should build a tiny house and see if that idea catches on,'” Cohoon said.

And catch on it did.

“We have six units currently and four under construction,” Cohoon said. “10 was kind of our goal, so once we get these four completed we will probably take a break for a year or two just to make sure we haven't over built and we will fill these houses up on a regular basis.”

Starting with donated materials and members of the Landmark Christian Church - the tiny home was completed in about four months and costed about five thousand dollars.

“The confidence is you have a perm address for a bit and you have goals and people helping you reach those goals,” Cohoon said.

The residences have been extraordinary, according to Cohoon.

“They clean the houses when they leave,” Cohoon said. “We've never had to deal with any damage to the houses. We've never had the police go to the houses on a call.”

Becky Piper, a Hope Village Navigator, said the homes give people a chance to rest and refocus.

“It gives them a place to put their stuff, get good sleep and be able to start working to what they need to get stable,” she said.

Cohoon said he agrees.

“Giving shelter is one thing, but building that safety network seems to be a really important thing to them. “

Cohoon says they've housed everyone from the elderly to high school students.

Now, Notre Dame Catholic Church wants to get in on the tiny houses expansion. The city council will hear a first reading at Tuesday’s meeting. A vote is scheduled for Oct. 15, 2019.

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