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US churches gifting tiny homes to the homeless

In an attempt to mitigate the problem of homelessness in communities across the U.S., churches are building tiny homes for the homeless. Various versions of tiny homes including fixed micro houses to moveable cabins are being constructed on church premises. The church leaders derive the motivation to offer shelter to the homeless from their beliefs which include the need to care for the helpless, especially the homeless.

CBN News reports:

Churches across the U.S. are tackling the big question of how to address homelessness in their communities with a small solution: tiny homes.

On vacant plots near their parking lots and steepled sanctuaries, congregations are building everything from fixed and fully contained micro homes to petite, moveable cabins, and several other styles of small-footprint dwellings in between.

Church leaders are not just trying to be more neighborly. The drive to provide shelter is rooted in their beliefs — they must care for the vulnerable, especially those without homes.

“It’s just such an integral part of who we are as a people of faith,” said the Rev. Lisa Fischbeck, former Episcopal vicar and the board chair of Pee Wee Homes, an affordable housing organization building tiny abodes in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Fischbeck led the Episcopal Church of the Advocate when it added three one-bedroom units on its 15-acre campus. The first residents, including the organization’s namesake, Nathaniel “Pee Wee” Lee, moved into them in June 2019.

Before that Lee, 78, had spent years sleeping in alleys, cardboard shelters, and cars after medical issues ended his masonry career. Today he enjoys watching TV in his home, growing tomatoes, and fishing in the nearby pond.

“I thank the Lord because this is mine and nobody can run me out,” Lee said, breaking out in laughter as he sat on the porch of his little white house.

The advantage of constructing tiny home inside church premises has been pointed out by Fischbeck. She says that since church properties already contain necessary infrastructure including water and electricity, it become advantageous to choose them as places for constructing shelters.

Fischbeck said tiny homes can fit nearly anywhere, and an advantage to building them on church properties is they already have electricity, water, and other infrastructure in place.

“I just feel so passionately that churches have space,” she said. “Just consider it. It’s a dire need.”

The embrace of tiny homes as housing solutions can be found in both sacred and secular spaces. Within the Christian sphere, their use spans denominations. Often the tiny homes projects build on related ministries such as providing parking spaces for people living in their cars. Beneficiaries are generally welcome to attend worship services but are not required to do so.

Some churches’ projects are already up and running, while others are still working toward move-in day, as the Church of the Nazarene congregation in St. Paul, Minnesota, which is assembling a tiny house community for chronically homeless people with local nonprofit Settled.

“We do not have a lot of property,” said Jeff O’Rourke, lead pastor of Mosaic Christian Community in St. Paul. “We have just strived to use every square inch of property that we have to be hospitable.”

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