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Tiny House Makes a Big Impact
4/6/2016 3:47:01 PM

Rev. Thomas Dixon (center) leads a prayer in front of a ‘Tiny House’ after the press conference held by The Hope for the Homeless Delegation April 1. The rights and safety of homeless citizens in Tent City and at least eight other major encampments in the Lowcountry were the subject of the Hope for the Homeless delegation’s visit to the Capital and President’s Offices in Washington, DC last week. Photo: Tolbert Smalls, Jr.
By Patrice Smith

An 8 x 12 foot tiny house is nearing completion in downtown Charleston. Being constructed in the parking lot of the International Longshoreman Association building on Morrison Drive, the house will serve as a model for an upcoming tiny house community.

“We’d like to build a village around the tiny house concept, between 40 and 60 houses on about an acre of land.” says Tyreece Washington who heads up the Tiny House Project of Charleston. The Project is designed to treat and alleviate homelessness in the area.

“It would be an equitable alternative to people camping out under the interstate.” according to Washington who says there are tiny house communities in Washington DC, Oregon and even Greenville, South Carolina.

The tiny house is financed by Operation Veteran Relief and will be occupied by a person selected by the group. The house, which is on wheels, will be driven around Charleston to show it off.

“The tiny house is a great table setting to get people to the table to address the problems that cause tent cities. This tiny house is bringing focus to the plight of these people who are being swept under the rug.” Washington says.

Increasing rent prices are forcing some folks on to the streets, according to Washington.

“Homelessness is exacerbated by property price increases. It’s a form of gentrification. People are being sacrificed for the dollar”.

Washington recounts how his own rent at a downtown Charleston apartment recently doubled.

“There was a time that I lived near Coming Street and paid $900 for 3 rooms. A home was remodeled in the area and then some apartments came up and the property value shot up. The landlord said she was going to raise my rent to $1900. Fortunately I was able to find somewhere else to stay.”

Washington is determined to help homeless people find a place to stay. So he’s taking the Tiny House Project of Charleston to state leaders.

“I am going to the state democratic convention on March 30th to encourage leadership to release federal and state funds to finance this initiative. Our next step is to purchase some land for the tiny house community.”

Washington says Charleston’s tiny house community would consist of 12 x 15 foot houses that two people can live in.

“It would be about the size of a large master bedroom. The house would have a door and three windows, beds, a chair, laminate flooring, a ceiling fan and even a porch light.” Washington describes.

The community would feature communal bathing facilities like at a campground and offer services to help the residents obtain jobs.

Washington says the tiny house community will enable the residents to have a sense of community.

“And it would give them a secure place to live which could provide a good base to move forward economically so these people can become productive members of society.”

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