Greensboro Builds Tiny Houses For Homeless

Jun 28, 2019

David Merritt, 56, wears his house key around his neck as he leaves his tiny home to go back to work on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 in Greensboro, N.C. He is the first resident of one of the half dozen homes at the Hammer Tiny House Community recently dedicated in June.
Credit Lynn Hey / For WUNC

Six houses sit between some brush and a brick apartment building on Causey Street in Greensboro.  

The houses are quite small -- just under 500 square feet -- and that’s one of the reasons why they were built.

We look at building tiny houses as a way of rebuilding someone's dignity. -Scott Jones

Tiny House Development Inc. is a nonprofit working to create tiny house communities throughout the state. They’re designing homes to help people who are homeless.

The organization owns the homes and tenants pay 40 percent of their income for rent. Tenants are individually screened and then chosen to move in.

The Causey Street location took about two years to complete and cost around $210,000. It’s the first tiny house community in the state to be built on permanent foundation. 

“We look at building tiny houses as a way of rebuilding someone’s dignity,” Tiny House Development Executive Board Chair Scott Jones said.  “An individual who lives in an apartment doesn’t have the benefit of having four walls and a yard. Really, there’s no sense of responsibility or ownership necessarily.”

Scott Jones, executive board chair, Tiny Home Community Development stands in the doorway of one of the half dozen homes in the Hammer Tiny House Community Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Greensboro, N.C.
Credit Lynn Hey / For WUNC

The cost to build a house and the cost to put someone in an apartment is about the same. Jones said he wants more people to experience the feeling of ownership, even though they are renting on a year-to-year basis. He and the organization want to have 100 tiny houses in five years throughout North Carolina.

Each home has a bedroom, kitchen and living space, a bathroom and a stackable washer and dryer. All utilities are included.

Each tiny community will have between three to 10 tiny houses. The houses are primarily for people who are chronically homeless, seniors, and single parents and their children. A community in High Point is currently being built and Jones said he wants to build another community in Greensboro.

David Merritt fit the bill to move into one of the tiny homes.

David Merritt, 56, stands in his tiny home Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Greensboro, N.C. He is the first resident of one of the half dozen homes at the Hammer Tiny House Community. The nonprofit group, Tiny House Community Development Inc., is working to build homes to help erase homelessness.
Credit Lynn Hey / For WUNC

Merritt worked manual labor jobs for years until he suffered a lower back injury. Unable to work, he became homeless and remained homeless for 12 years.

It wasn’t until his longtime friend Scott Jones reached out that he was able to get into the first tiny home built on Causey Street. Merritt has live there for just over a year and a half.

“At least I got a place to sleep, I cook my own food I can watch TV, got movies to watch,” he said. “I go to the store if I need anything. I don’t have to worry about anything.”

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:

Hammer Tiny House Community, with a half dozen homes, became the first community of permanent tiny houses in Greensboro earlier in June.
Credit Lynn Hey / For WUNC

Hammer Tiny House Community, with a half dozen homes, became the first community of permanent tiny houses in Greensboro earlier in June.
Credit Lynn Hey / For WUNC

The interior of one of the tiny homes built by Hammer Tiny House Community. The nonprofit group is working to build homes to help erase homelessness.The houses range in size from approximately 400-500 square feet, each including a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living area and washer and dryers.
Credit Lynn Hey / For WUNC
The kitchen inside of the tiny homes built by Hammer Tiny House Community. The nonprofit is working to build homes to help erase homelessness with houses ranging in size from approximately 400 to 500 square feet, each including a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living area and washer and dryers.
Credit Lynn Hey / For WUNC

A community garden at the Hammer Tiny House Community. The nonprofit group is working to build homes to help erase homelessness with houses ranging in size from approximately 400 to 500 square feet.
Credit Lynn Hey / For WUNC