‘Housing is healthcare:’ Wilmington project to help the homeless installs first tiny house

New tiny homes will address chronic homelessness

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The foundation has been laid in an effort to support the city’s homeless community.

On Wednesday, Eden Village’s first home was lifted into place with a crane. The property off Kornegay Avenue will eventually be a neighborhood of 32, 400-square-foot tiny homes designed to give a select group of chronically homeless applicants a permanent place to live.

The Salvation Army will be across the street providing health services, job training, and education.

People selected to live in Eden Village must have a history of chronic homelessness and a medical condition or disability. Once they’re in, they can stay for life, granted they follow the rules and are good neighbors.

George Grady has woken up every day for the last three years in the cab of his truck.

On a normal day, he emerges from his sleeping bag and heads to the service station to wash off and find a cup of coffee or a meal at a McDonald’s.

“I never thought I would be here at this point, living in my truck like this, but its lonely. I deal with things day by day,”said Eden Village applicant George Grady. “It’s a bad situation…hopefully, I see some light at the end of the rainbow coming soon though.”

He’s one of 20 applicants in line to get a tiny house through Wilmington’s Eden Village. Case workers have interviewed more than 200 people to find a small group of people that fit the criteria to live in Eden Village. Organizers estimate there are between 50 and 100 people that fall into that category around the city.

“We believe housing is healthcare. We believe that the solution to poverty is dignity, and the solution to homelessness is community,” said Wilmington Eden Village co-founder Tom Brown.

Brown is a retired CPA who handles much of the project’s finances. His brother is the creator of the original Eden Village in Missouri—the effort Wilmington’s Eden Village is modeled after.

Now that a model home has been delivered, their current focus shifts to using the first home to build the funds needed to continue. So far, eight of the 32 tiny homes are fully funded. Brown says they’ve raised more than $1,250,000, but they still have two million left to raise. Once they get another million dollars, they can begin the infrastructure portion of the project, putting in things like utilities and sidewalks.

While the focus of Eden Village is on the city’s homeless people; they’re not the only ones helped by this project.

“The benefit is to the community. These people are in the hospital regularly, but when they have temporary housing they don’t go to the hospital. So we’re going to save the hospital money, we’re gonna save taxpayers money and, you know, it’s a beautiful project,” said Brown.

At this point, leaders think the neighborhood will be done by summer 2022. It’s a date applicants like Mr. Grady can’t hardly wait for.

“Being able to come in and close the door...lock the door...and have a kitchen,” Grady mused. “I like cooking and I was told there was gonna be a garden and everything...and I like doing that too.”

If you’d like to visit the tiny house yourself, organizers invite the community to a public walk-through of the model this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

To donate directly to the cause, you can make a contribution on their website here.

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