First tiny home underway

By: 
KATIE DUNN
S-E Staff Reporter

The first tiny home of the Hope Street Project is being built by Wilder Construction LLC in Kettle Falls.

The Hope Street Project is a long-term project to help house the homeless in the Tri-county area. This project was founded by family physician Dr. Barry Bacon in November 2015, and is supported by the Tri-County Community Health Fund, a 501c3 non-profit organization.

Currently, Hope Street partners are working on a comprehensive and sustainable plan to end homelessness in the nearby communities.

The tiny homes are one aspect of the plan.

Dr. Bacon said one of the first important steps to ending homelessness is getting a roof over people’s heads so they can begin rebuilding their lives.

Studies show that by providing shelter early, regardless of other barriers, it reduces a person’s medical costs by 60 percent, according to Dr. Bacon.

Mental health, drug addiction, poverty and criminal history can all become barriers for finding housing. This is why the Hope Street Project is meant to have wrap around services.

In Colville, the Colville Community Warming Center opens at night as needed. When it comes to the daytime though, there is no designated location for the homeless to keep warm.

Dr. Bacon said even when it’s not cold, sleeping outside can be unhealthy and cause extra stress on a person's body.

The first tiny home is being built by Wilder Construction, LLC, backed by the support of the Tri-County Builders Association.

Keith Wilder, President of the Tri-County Home Builders Association and owner of Wilder Construction, said the association is partnered with Hope Street and fully on board with its mission.

First home

Dr. Bacon has two families living on his property that had nowhere else to go. One family consists of a mother, father and their teenage son, and the other family is a mother and her adult son.

These two families will be the first and second recipients of tiny homes.

The people who are selected for a tiny home have to pay for it, but no interest will be charged and the payments are meant to be affordable, according to Dr. Bacon.

Meanwhile, the family or individual will have a place to stay.

Once the tiny home is paid off, that family will own it.

At the end of last year, Wilder Construction moved to its new location at 385 E. 3rd, Kettle Falls.

Daisy Pongrakthai of Wilder Construction LLC said “it was quite a feat” to move a construction company that had been in the same office for seven years. She explained that a lot of reorganizing was involved.

The move had been a long time coming.

“We needed a bigger space,” explained Wilder.

The new location offers a bigger construction yard that gives them plenty of room for larger projects, like building tiny homes.

Wilder said the first tiny home is approximately 26-feet long and eight-feet wide.

“We made it bigger to accommodate more people,” Wilder explained. “And 208 sq. feet is still pretty small for three people.”

The first tiny home has two lofts, one at each end, where a bed will go, a full bath and kitchen/living room area.

The tiny home is being designed to meet the needs of the first family. The second tiny home will be adjusted for its two occupants.

“It’s like a fancy camper,” said Pongrakthai.

Wilder said the first tiny house is a prototype to analyze how much each home costs to build.

Wilder Construction is looking for local vendors who can contribute things like flooring or furnishings to help alleviate costs.

Already Columbia Cedar has donated a unit of utility grade siding for the first tiny home and Blue Mountain Plumbing donated labor to work on the plumbing.

As of now, each tiny home is expected to take a couple of months to build, weather and temperature dependent, according to Wilder.

Tiny homes are built for travel. They are situated on a trailer and their dimensions are street legal.

Dr. Bacon said the Hope Street Project is working to find a location for the tiny homes to reside once they're finished.

Applications

Applications to apply for a tiny home under the Hope Street Project can be found at the Colville Community Health Center, at 358 N. Main, Colville.

Partnering agencies like Northeast Washington Alliance Counseling and Rural Resources also have available applications for people to fill out.

In order to be eligible for a tiny home, a person or family must be able to have some type of income to make payments.

Dr. Bacon said the best estimate so far predicts that the first family’s tiny home will cost approximately $25,000. This roughly comes out to $300 a month for seven years.

Dr. Bacon said it’s like renting to own, but without interest.

When a person fills out the application, their answers are used to determine what the barriers are that’s keeping them from being successful.

Even if that person is not eligible for a tiny home, they can still receive help to get back on their feet.

Tiny homes are just one aspect of the solution to end homelessness.

“This is doable. This is not rocket science, we can change the outcomes for people in our community,” said Dr. Bacon. “These are not throwaway people. These are our sons and daughters.”

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