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Tiny Homes Detroit: Everything you want to know

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Michelle & Chris Gerard

A lot of questions have come up regarding the community of tiny homes developing in Detroit for the low-income population. We wanted to answer some of the most frequent questions and welcome more. It’s certainly a different program for Detroit, but one that’s growing in different areas around the country. Here we go.

Why don’t you just renovate some of the thousands of abandoned houses around Detroit?

True, Detroit has many abandoned houses. The cost of renovation is high, as is the cost of maintaining a larger house. The electric bill including heat in the winter is estimated at $32 a month in a tiny home.

Cass Community Social Services has renovated buildings for housing, including a neighboring 41-unit apartment building. A tiny home can give a low-income individual or couple a chance at owning an asset, giving them opportunities to borrow money in the future. This tiny home program is the only home ownership program for people earning as little as $10,000 in the country.

Who can live in this community?

At least half of the renters will be formerly homeless people and the rest will be low-income seniors and students who have aged out of foster care. Residents need to have a steady income in order to qualify for this program.

How much does it cost to build a tiny home?

A 300-square-foot home is estimated to cost $48,000 to build, based on professional trades and purchased materials. CCSS is being helped out by volunteers and is utilizing donations, so the costs vary depending on size, donated materials, and volunteer hours. The Cass tiny home program is privately funded.

How many people can live in a tiny home?

One individual or a couple. Each tiny home has a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area. Each house is limited to two small pets.

Who will maintain the yard/exterior?

Residents will maintain their home and yards. Cass will loan residents lawnmowers, rakes, shovels, ladders, etc. The exteriors of the homes are mostly maintenance free.

How many homes will be in the community? When will they be built?

One model home was finished last fall, while six more were just completed. Three more will be started in June. The hope is to have at least 25 homes on these formerly vacant lots, as funding permits. If funding allows, Cass plans on building at least 10 more for families in a second phase.

Aren’t tiny homes just a fad?

Ask us in five years.