As the weather turns cold and snow blankets the streets, it is especially nice to curl up in your warm home with a cup of hot tea. For most, winter is the coziest season of all, but many people don’t have the luxury of being inside on these cold, long nights. In fact, many Americans don’t know where they’ll be spending the night. In an effort to keep the homeless safe and warm this winter, the city of St. Louis constructed a neighborhood of 50 colorful tiny homes with almost everything a person will need this winter.
The first residents of St. Louis’ “Tiny Home Village” stepped inside the homes on December 1st, and each home comes with at least one bed, desk, chair, shelving unit, heat and air conditioning unit, and a place to charge electronic devices. The community will also have on-site case management staff, 24/7 WiFi, and round-the-clock security. The Village consists of 40 single homes, eight double homes, and two homes that meet the requirements established by the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The homes will be open to both men and women seeking shelter. The Village is built on the location of a former St. Louis RV park, and the site was chosen because the RV park already had showers, laundry facilities, and bathrooms in place.
The Village is also across the street from St. Louis Central Department Patrol, and a mile away from the city’s two major homeless resources St. Patrick Center and The Biddle Housing Opportunities Center.
The city is planning to lease the land for at least 29 months, and the first payments are expected to come out of the $35 million coronavirus relief fund for the city of St. Louis. “With this investment, we’ll be able to create new opportunities for temporary, transitional housing and better protect our unhoused neighbors, who remain at risk of contracting this dangerous virus,” St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said.
The homes are planned to be a residence for people for roughly 4-5 months while the on-site case managers assist them in finding a permanent living situation. In addition to the cold weather conditions, the global pandemic is particularly dangerous for those without homes.
“Folks are much more vulnerable to COVID if they’re living on the street if they are living in a group setting,” Krewson told reporters. “So this is assistance to prevent COVID transmission.” The Tiny Home Village not only insulates people from the cold weather, but it also allows people to isolate themselves more easily. This is the second announcement of a planned community structure for the homeless in St. Louis.
On a four-acre site alongside Adeline Avenue, Veterans Community Project is working with the city to build 50 tiny homes for veterans experiencing homelessness. The site will also serve as the location for a Community Center and Veterans Outreach Center. “The Veterans Outreach Center will be a ‘one-stop’ shop for any veteran requiring support services such as emergency assistance, military benefits navigation, or case management,” according to KSDK. While veteran assistance is largely considered a federal issue, the Veterans Community Project felt it was their duty to help provide comfort and stability to some of the nation’s veterans in these especially difficult times.
These are two of the most recent housing projects planned to combat homelessness, but many more are expected in the coming years. Doorways Housing provides housing and support for people suffering from HIV and AIDS that are at risk of homelessness. The planned 50-unit apartment complex is located about a four minute walk from the Tiny Home Village and is expected to be completed by 2022. These initiatives are just the start for the people of St. Louis, as they combat homelessness in their neighborhoods. These homes will provide comfort and quiet to some of the people who need it most this winter.