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Denton group aims to create tiny housing village for Denton’s unhoused

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Article Originally Published by Hannah Johnson on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Hannah Johnson on North Texas Daily

Denton Basic Services Center continues its efforts to create a tiny house village in Denton. 

The Denton Basic Services Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to providing shelter for Denton’s low-income and unhoused population. DBSC is asking Denton City Council to rent out a piece of land to build a resident-run tiny house village and $100,000 to begin operations. 

A tiny house village consists of small homes close together in one area. For transitional housing, these homes are often in a small village which provides basic necessities such as water and communal areas. 

This is not the first time DBSC has gone to the city council to create a village. Jane Piper-Lunt, board member and chairman of DBSC, has gone before the council three times in the past four years for this project. 

Piper-Lunt said she hopes the village’s homes provide a space where residents have the privacy to work through their problems within a supportive community. 

“We want to create a community among these people so they help each other,” Piper-Lunt said. 

DBSC has teamed up with the Chairman of HomesNOW! Not Later Douglas Gustafson who helps operate two villages in Washington. HomesNOW! Not Later is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Washington that helps people transition from homelessness. Unity Village, a HomesNow! Not Later tiny home community, has 20 tiny homes and provides access to a bathroom, showers, drinking water and garbage service. 

“Some people need that community support,” Gustafson said. 

DBSC plans to start the village with 30 to 35 homes. Piper-Lunt said the village will have a horseshoe of houses with communal bathrooms and showers, a meeting hall and a communal kitchen. Each house will roughly be the size of a bedroom, Piper-Lunt said. 

“Having a place where they can actually go, even if it’s 100 square feet, [where they] can lock the door,” said Deborah Wright, board member and secretary-treasurer of DBSC. “[They] can have a place to get away.” 

Wright said people without houses face uncertainties every day, especially with not knowing where to sleep. 

“If you do find a place to sleep, [then] who’s going to tell you to leave, who’s going to take your stuff?” Wright said. 

After handpicking the first wave of residents for the village, DBSC will oversee the residents as they create their own rules and responsibilities for the village. Beth Varma, board member and facilitator of DBSC, said village rules will depend on what residents want. Varma said oftentimes homeless shelters will list expectations of those in their care without any of their input. 

“That’s why a lot of people can’t find the services they need,” Varma said. “They’re telling them what they need, not asking them.” 

Piper-Lunt said allowing the villagers to create their own rules and participate in the running of the village will give residents a sense of purpose.

Housing for the homeless is often temporary or transitional, Piper-Lunt said, but she said she wants Denton’s village to be transformational housing. She also said not calling it transitional housing can help change the perception of the unhoused in Denton.

“These are human beings,” Piper-Lunt said. “These are adults. We have come to know them as friends. We want to break a lot of the stereotypes.”

DBSC’s petition to Denton City Council has garnered 518 signatures as of Oct. 18. Piper-Lunt said DBSC wants to show Denton’s city council it has community support for the tiny housing project. 

“We have plenty of community support,” Piper-Lunt said. “We’ve been at this for four years.” 

More information about DBSC and its housing village project can be found at the organization’s advocacy page named It’s Time To Do It

DBSC’s petition can be found on change.org under “Let’s Build a Tiny House Village for Denton’s Unhoused.” Community members interested in donating to DBSC’s effort can donate to @Beth-Varma on Venmo, beth_varma@hotmail.com on PayPal, wright.deborah@live.com on Zelle or $dswnow on Cash App. 

Courtesy Jane Piper-Lunt

Source: North Texas Daily

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