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This tiny house could be a game changer for the low-income population in Detroit

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The first of many

Tiny home Michelle & Chris Gerard

Earlier this spring, we brought you the story about Cass Community Social Services raising money for a community of tiny homes to help the low-income population in the city. We now have pictures of the first one, recently finished.

Tiny home Michelle & Chris Gerard

It’s the first of many that will be built on these two blocks between the Lodge and Woodrow Wilson Street. Right now, there are plans to finish seven by October, with the goal of building 25 altogether as the funding comes in. The application process starts soon and the first residents should move in next month.

The houses will range in size from 250-400 square feet. Each house will look different, but will have similar amenities. This model house, seen above, is 300 square feet, and they’ll be building a deck on the back of it for additional living space.

Ford has contributed $400,000 to this project. A 300-square-foot home would cost about $48,000 to build, but that figure could decrease as more are built.

Residents will need an income to qualify for the project. A 300-square-foot home will cost $300 in rent each month, plus heating, which should only be about $32 per month in the winter. They’re using a rent-to-own model, with tenants graduating from a rental lease to a land contract, with potential full ownership rights of the home after seven years.

This is a first of its kind project in Detroit. Cass Community Social Services first worked with the city on appropriate zoning. They’re unsure of what the homes will be worth in the future, as there are no comparable properties in the area. There are over 300 vacant lots within a mile radius of this neighborhood, so they’re looking at this project as repopulating the neighborhood.

So why don’t they just rehab vacant structures around the area? They have. Cass Community Social Services has renovated apartment buildings in the area, which now house a low-income population. Tiny homes are easy to maintain, and could give residents ownership in the future.

Here’s a look inside the first tiny home, which will be a model until the first phase is ready this fall.


This project has been led by Reverend Faith Fowler, with the help of the community, volunteers, Ford, and the RNR Foundation. They’re accepting donations for the houses, including items that would be useful in the homes. More information can be found here.


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