Detroit’s cluster of tiny houses is expanding.
For the last few years, nonprofit Cass Community Social Services (CCSS) has been developing the 250- to 400-square-foot homes for people who make between $7,000 and $15,000 a year between the Lodge and Woodrow Wilson Street. So far, it’s completed 13 with the goal of 25 in the first phase of development.
Impressively, CCSS has financed the homes without using any public funds. Support, materials and labor have come from grants, private donations, and volunteers.
At a groundbreaking ceremony on August 29, CCSS announced that the next six homes will be financed by Epitec, a Southfield-based tech staffing agency, and celebrated the completion of six more on Monterey and Elmhurst Streets.
Rev. Faith Fowler, executive director of CCSS, praised the quality of the homes. “You’re not going to go into these homes and say, ‘This is affordable housing,’” she said. “‘You’re going to walk in and say, ‘I could live here.’”
Tiny Homes Detroit works through a rent-to-own model. Tenants pay $325 a month for seven years, after which they become the homeowner. Fowler says that tenants come from a variety of backgrounds: formerly incarcerated and homeless, senior citizens, youth aging out of foster care, to name a few. All the tenants, except one who died, are still part of the community.
The homes themselves are smartly designed to maximize the little space available. Beds are either pulled-down or tucked a half-story above the kitchen/living room area. There’s modern appliances, and nice finishes and furniture. Some of the homes have metal roofs, which can last decades. There’s even a little space for storage.
They also come in a variety of styles, some of which are pretty distinct. One looks like a farm house with a low-pitched overhang over the porch. Another has half a curved roof above four alternating windows. The homes are also partially powered by solar panels.
Principal architects for most of the homes was Quinn Evans Architects and interior design was done by Elenai Interiors, KBM Interiors, and Karen Bean.
CCSS has more planned for the Dexter-Linwood community. After completing the first batch of homes, it will then begin a second phase that includes homes for families that are slightly larger and for tenants with disabilities. It already owns most of the necessary lots and is working to purchase another 18.
It also plans on doing some commercial development on Woodrow Wilson Street where tenants can be employed. Fowler says it’s received a grant from General Motors to build out a car wash that will use only a cup of water per car.
CCSS is hosting fundraisers from August 30 through September 1 to support the expansion of the community. Guests can tour the new homes and will be served refreshments. Tickets are $75 each or two for $100.