Tiny Houses for St. Louis’ Homeless

By on March 22, 2018

From NextSTL:  Tiny houses typically crop up in trending articles for DIY communities or “downsizing” one’s lifestyle. But in North St. Louis, a construction project spearheaded by North Grand Neighborhood Services (NGNS) has broken ground to provide 6 homeless individuals with permanent, energy efficient housing on a donated lot located at 2411 Fall Ave in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood.

The project had garnered crowd-sourced support through GoFundMe, describing the ideology of the project in addition to the logistics: “Tiny houses are cost-effective and are being used in other cities to address the issues of homelessness. St. Louis can be next. Together, all of us can make a difference in the lives of those who face this trauma.”

Tackling St. Louis’ vacant spaces, slim funding for human services, and the immediate need of our city’s unhoused citizens, the campaign has already reached over $35K in donations. According to their campaign update, construction started two months ago in partnership with two area high schools.

Dianne Marshak directs the project under Social Justice 4 All (SJ4A). “No one should have to live on the streets,” she says. “Shame on our society for not solving this issue.”

Since society at large has failed, Marshak took matters into her own hands. In 2016, Marshak met Father Gary Meier, then-Executive Director of NGNS, and the tiny house idea took off. As part of their grassroots outreach, NGNS and SJ4A reached out to local churches, which led them to one enthusiastic parishioner’s school district for a partnership: Rockwood, where students’ 2017-2018 curriculum included constructing two tiny houses.

Mike Baldwin consults on the NGNS project and is also an organizer of the Common Good Tiny House Coop in St. Louis. While many nonprofits define long-term housing as 90 days, Baldwin is unsatisfied.

“People keep saying ‘long-term solutions’ — we’re looking for permanent solutions.”

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