A congregation in South Carolina is in the process of creating a tiny house village to help local homeless women find shelter and community.
First Baptist Spartanburg plans to begin construction of 20 tiny houses plus a commons building by next year, after they have met with local government boards in 2021.
The village is slated to be on property they own in the Northside of Spartanburg, adjacent to a ministry they have for the less fortunate known as “The Bridge.”
Steve Wise, missions minister at First Baptist, told The Christian Post that the project came from multiple factors, including the church looking to expand its ministry to the homeless and requests from local groups, including the Northside Development Group.
“We’ve been very much aware of the problems our homeless face and the problems in the city of meeting homeless needs for a while,” said Wise.
“Together with what we already knew about homelessness, conversations that were going on in our city with a homeless task force and others, that’s how we came to make that decision.”
The expected cost will be $30,000 for each individual housing unit, plus around $200,000 for the commons building, which will be used for community gatherings for the homeless.
“The tiny houses are not designed for cooking and eating,” explained Wise. “They will [be] very simple, but we want mealtimes to be a community time.
“There will be some meetings with everybody that we’ll be having weekly and there’ll be some special trainings and they’ll be one-on-one mentoring and coaching that happens and that building will provide some of the space for that.”
Wise said that some people have already committed to pay for the construction, with the church relying on volunteer labor to help offset the financial cost of creating the village.
He was optimistic about the plans that will go before the local zoning commission and a design review board, saying that “we feel very good about getting those” approvals.
“First and foremost, God cares about everyone. He certainly cares about our homeless friends,” he said. “We really think God can do something amazing here and can bring about solutions.”
First Baptist Spartanburg is not the only congregation looking to create a tiny house community, as Faith Lutheran Church of Forest Lake, Minnesota, approved a similar plan in February.
Known as the “sacred settlement,” Faith Lutheran’s tiny house project will center on providing housing for homeless veterans and will involve them working with a nonprofit called Settled.
“This community will be well designed and intentional in how the houses are configured to be aesthetically pleasing and to provide a sense of community within our community,” said Faith Lutheran Church Senior Pastor John Klawiter back in February.
“A Sacred Settlement is not meant to be transitional housing, but a permanent community that brings community and belonging for the residents in a dignified and supportive place to call home.”