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A tiny home community rises in Detroit

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Three small single-story homes, colored blue, red, and white, sit in a row behind well-mowed lawns. Michelle & Chris Gerard

Last fall, we visited the first of many tiny homes being built by Cass Community Social Services as a way to help the low-income population in Detroit. The next six are ready, and Curbed stopped by for a tour with Reverend Faith Fowler as volunteers finished the homes.

Tiny Homes Detroit is a way for low-income individuals to become homeowners. Other tiny home communities have developed in the country, notably in Austin, but Detroit’s differs in a few ways. This is the only rent-to-own model in the country. Austin’s is located on the outskirts of the city, while Detroit’s is well within the city. Austin also uses a variety of trailers, tents, and tiny homes, while Detroit is only building tiny homes here.

Reverend Fowler says that this model gives residents an asset, which will help them borrow money in the future.

The houses vary between 250-400 square feet and each is architecturally different. Some are studios, while others have a loft, and some have a separate bedroom. Herman Miller and Interior Lifestyles donated furnishings and time. When we visited, many Ford employees were volunteering their time, adding finishing touches to the homes.

Many of the homes felt more spacious than they looked from the outside. They were also insulated to help with the noise from the Lodge.

Reverend Fowler says that six residents will move in after they receive a certificate of occupancy from the city. Three more will begin building in June; one notably will be a lighthouse on the corner near the Lodge.

Cass Community Social Services is running a progressive tour of the homes Thursday May 25 through Saturday May 27. This is a fundraiser for the organization and tickets are $75 a piece, or $100 per couple. Attendees will get treats from CCSS and a copy of Reverend Fowler’s new book, “Tiny Homes in a Big City.” Here’s a look inside the neighborhood.

Michelle & Chris Gerard