ROCKPORT—It’s taken nearly six months to complete, but the Hospitality House’s first tiny shelter prototype is open for public viewing this week. The 190-square-foot shelter, located in the back of Hospitality House’s red barn on five acres of the property, has a welcoming micro-front porch with a window box of fall gourds and bittersweet. The structure, which cost approximately $15,000 to build, is not exactly a “home,” but instead, more of a warm, safe, supportive place for homeless clients to stay, adding additional capacity to their shelter program.
It doesn’t take long to take a tour. The interior is similar to a rental cottage or motel room with just enough room for a twin bed in the main room, (functioning as both the sleeping and living space), a small dresser, a bathroom (not yet plumbed) and a kitchenette area.
“We are planning to build a communal kitchen as part of our community building where everyone in the tiny structures can gather and take turns making food,” explained Ev Donnelly, a volunteer coordinator.
Nationally, affordable housing shortage is at a rate of only 29 units available for every 100 extremely low-income family renters. In tight housing markets like the Midcoast’s where Maine State Housing Authority statistics show that the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment with utilities included in Rockland is $1,033, it’s more than what 67 percent of Rockland residents can afford. The concept of “Tiny Home” communities has caught on nationally, with the ideal number of structures in each small town totaling six to 15, providing economic relief for those who can’t afford high rentals or mortgages. The tight-knit community model would also provide built-in education and peer support.
“We hope with funding we’ll be able to build 10 to 14 of these total,” said Donnelly. ”Half of them would be temporary shelters, say three or four nights for someone or a small family in an emergency situation and the other half to be transitional supportive shelter, for someone who might be coming out of the Hospitality House, but isn’t quite ready to be self-sufficient in their own apartment yet, but is working toward it.”
Last May, Tia Anderson, executive director of Midcoast Habitat for Humanity and Stephanie Primm, executive director of the Hospitality House, were brainstorming ways to collaborate in order to provide sustainable temporary shelter to the number of homeless clients in the Midcoast. With the help of a half dozen volunteers and their Women Build team, they built and raised the exterior walls, framing them up in may. The rest of the finish work took place over the last few months.
The public is invited to view the new structure all this week from 12 to 2 p.m. each day or by appointment.
For more information contact Midcoast Habitat for Humanity at 207-236-6123 or visit: www.midcoasthabitat.org/
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org