Can tiny houses save Detroit?
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Can tiny houses save Detroit?


If you’ve never had the opportunity to own a home, this is a once in a lifetime dream come true opportunity. Detroit is building the country’s first tiny home community to help low income residents become homeowners. It was started by Reverend Faith Fowler, who turned a personal loss into a gift for her community. – When my mom died, if I inherited some things, and it was really the
first time in my life I understood that if you’re poor when your parents die, they can’t leave you anything. So I started looking
for a way that we could provide the safety net
for really poor people, who had an income but not enough to ever climb the economic ladder
that most of us do. And tiny homes just fit the bill. Many people are fixated on the fact that they’re so darn cute. But for me it’s that economic mobility that we’re able to offer folks, and give them a chance to
have the American dream. – [Voiceover] Detroit
has one of the highest poverty rates in the country. About 36%. Here, homelessness is a major problem. – In the city of Detroit, there’s anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 homeless men, women, and children. Detroit’s 139,000 square miles. It’s a huge city. We had 80,000 abandoned buildings. Because of the auto industry, people could get living wage
jobs with decent benefits, and have enough to buy a nice house. But many of those jobs are now gone. So this is Detroit too. – [Voiceover] This is the Boston Edison Historic District. Many of its mansions were
once home to auto magnates during the city’s hey
day in the early 1900’s. – You can see a very great contrast to the neighborhood we just drove through. And so we have this gap, tremendous gap. I call Detroit the land of opportunity. We have plenty of land
and if we look at it as an opportunity, then tremendous things can be done in terms of housing. – [Voiceover] Faith runs the non-profit, Cass Community Social Services. The agency is the force
behind building this tiny community. When completed, it will be 25 tiny homes, each uniquely designed. – Seven houses are finished and occupied. Five houses are under construction. The first seven have just been wonderful. I feel like we hit the lottery. – [Voiceover] Many of the
materials are donated. And the construction involves
an army of volunteers. – [Faith] Some are schools, some are churches, some are corporate people, and some are carpenters and electricians. It’s been very humbling. – [Voiceover] Each home is
between 250 and 400 square feet, and costs $1 per square foot. So a housing payment
comes out to be $250 to $400 a month. How is this financially possible? – We needed to eliminate the mortgage, because our people
can’t afford a mortgage. So we raised the money
for the homes up front. When they pay rent,
they’re actually not paying for rent to own. They’re just paying rent
so that we establish a financial history for them. We use that money to pay their taxes, their water, their insurance, and their security system. So if they pay that for seven years, then we give them the house, the land, the deed, and the bills. – [Voiceover] The mission
here is more than just building shelter. It’s about helping people
rebuild their lives. Keith McElveen was one
of the first residents in the community. Born and raised in Detroit, he’s making the most of his second chance. – It was kinda hard growing up here. I grew up in the state system. It wasn’t peaches and cream. – [Voiceover] After losing his job as an assistant manager at a blood bank, Keith couldn’t find work. – I wound up selling drugs. And wound up going to prison. Seven years. It was kinda rough. But I endure. – When he came out, his mother, father, sister and brother were all dead. So to go home, where do you go? – Once I had got out, I was just trying to survive. And I didn’t want to be homeless. I came to Cass looking for a job. – [Voiceover] Keith now
works security at Cass. But even when he’s off the clock, he’s looking after the other residents in the community. – I’m part of this community. I’m invested in a mission. – [Voiceover] The tiny homes community is directly tied to Cass’ social services, which provide programs for food, healthcare, and employment. The objective is to help
people improve their lives. And to help build a support network, residents of the tiny community commit to eight hours of volunteer
service every month. Like Gladys, who works
at the organization’s food pantry. – I love taking care of people. To me it’s a community enrichment because they help us, we help them. – [Voiceover] Participating
in Cass’ services helps build skills and community. – They then become the
role models for people just coming in off the streets. What a wonderful thing. – [Voiceover] Since its launch, the program has gained
wide-spread interest. Over 1,000 people have
inquired about applying for tiny homes. And other places are seeing if the program can be replicated. – [Faith] We’re consulting
with other organizations who are trying to do something
similar in their area. It is not the only solution. Not everybody wants to
live in a tiny home, but it is certainly a great
option for people who are, to help them up the ladder
of economic opportunity.

100 Comments

  • Joeleen Ladououcer

    It's a beautiful idea One big problem.. some rich corporate organization will build HLA hole bunch and it will become the inn thing and then it will be to expensive for anyone to buy this happened to every good idea for people believe the poverty line it's a sad but true problem.

  • Michelle W

    She is a saint. This was a beautiful idea. Great job everyone ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ I hope all the tenants follow through.

  • Deborah Palmgren

    The biggest financial burden in America is housing. In 1957 I rented a beautiful 1000 Sq ft furnished apartments for $65.00 a month. In 1972 I bought a new 2500 sq. ft brick home in nice neighborhood for $28,000. The housing market has gone mad. It needs to stop.

  • Klara Moody

    It's truly great news to start the project of tiny homes in this once so huge industrialized city.
    I was saddend when reading about its collapse and decline due to the Automobile crises and the poverty it caused to lots of people who still live there..
    It truly warms my heart what the "Reverent " has managed to accomplished with the Idea of
    "TINY HOUSE".
    CONGRATULATIONS๐Ÿ‘๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒบ

  • DD Dva

    Oh wow I have tears in my eyes, this is awesome I wish this can happen to all the communities that's been left as ghost towns, it could happen if people come together and make a difference, this video needs to be on every news channel ๐Ÿ™
    Gary Indiana should be next on the list

  • Jacqueline Campbell

    Thank you for giving people a chance. I wish more communities would do the same to help people. Something has to save our country and people.pride of ownership is overwelminjg. Tiny homes may be the way to recovery.

  • dd91

    This is the house of poor people in america while in the philippines these houses are for rich already. This isnt tiny. Its actually huge

  • Temika Sanders

    I want one.๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’ž

  • Tari Blevins

    The Democrats have tried ths twice before. Sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into low cost loans. Neighborhoods still ended up brings neglected hoods.

  • Stacy Savage

    I've always wished someone would buy the old abandoned warehouses; and turn them into apartments for very low income people. This is so nice of her!!

  • Lynn 1122

    Give people some pride and stability and keep out the intrusive banks and we have a beautiful result. We all donโ€™t need much in this life and take much for granted. This woman is a truly beautiful soul.
    God bless her.

  • OOO

    Just another welfare handout orchestrated by a deluded (and self-righteous) benefactor spending other people's money. My, my, she must sleep so smugly at night.

  • zygmunt szymanski

    MURZYNSKA METODA!!!!ย ย ย 1ย  kupicย ย ย ย 2ย  ubezpieczyc…..3 wyrwac z domu wszystko co mozna sprzedac…4ย ย  polac benzyna I spalicย ย  5ย ย ย  odebrac ubezpieczenie…..I OD NOWA !!!!! 1ย ย  kupicย ย ย  2ย ย  ubezpieczyc…..itd itd itp itp…

  • Sheila Winfield

    I wish I could find a home like this or someone that can build this particular home it is just me don't need a lot of space. If anyone can please contact me

  • deedee7733

    From a British standpoint, these houses are massive! Great work though, nice to see positive solutions to the awful social injustice blighting the world today. Inspiring.

  • Jennifer Emanuels

    Thank you for helping to keep our brothers and sisters warm in the winters and cool in summers but most of all safe every day

  • saudia spratt

    We have a lot of homelessness in our state and many of the poor was affected by the devastation of the Tornado and many suffer because of lack of affordable housing. Thanks for sharing

  • Msg of Yitzhak Kaduri

    Amen!!! Great initiative!!! Praise the Lord for that!!! All we need a roof over our head and running clean water!๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ‘

  • Fred Ferd

    Fine, you house the homeless, who are also jobless. You build houses for maybe a thousand of them, but there could be ten thousand or more out there without homes. What about them? And they're still jobless. Is everybody in this country eventually going to wind up in one of these things? How about an economy? Ban china!

  • Bart Perry

    I think this IS the way to go with housing. When you get older (as I am) and your children have moved out you don't need a large house… these are GREAT! I think I am going to look into one myself for my wife and I here in Arkansas.

  • Terika M.

    I believe there is a big future in these tiny homes opportunities . Even people with decent jobs ,.are.suffering just to pay their mortgage and the house pric8ng keeps going up.and up .

    Love the idea!!! Let's make.it happen all over the country !!!

  • Constanetta Collins

    Why it can disable people 50 plus that would love to OWN tiny house.Low income LIST r VERY LONG!!!. What can a person that disable Qualify???

  • Nicoletta Ciccone

    Oh God bless these beautiful people! I hope disgusting greedy California lerns about this.๐Ÿ˜ค Banks should not exist, banks have been stealing and lying to poor people.

  • Gina Kay

    AMERICAN DREAM TINY SLAVES IN TINY HOUSES. WHO ARE WE KIDDING. GAZILLION-AIRES CANNOT EVEN MAKE A CUP OF COFFEE WITHOUT SLAVES. #UBERIDIOTS

  • J M

    NOPE THEY CAN'T MAKE IT BETTER BUT THE PEOPLE WHO WILL INHABIT THEM WILL DEFINITELY MAKE THE NEIGHBORHOOD EVEN WORSE THAN IT IS GUARANTEED

  • Alana Lee0316

    This works well in a place where land is cheap (as they say location, location, location). This is an excellent community building opportunity. I was floored that in the "mansion" neighborhood houses went for approx $350000 only (according to Zillow). Unfortunately this wouldn't work in CA where land is so so valuable, unless someone donated it. A great cause.

  • skater man

    not the city i would do this in, but i admire this ladies hopes and dreams to give to those that give to themselves in regards to having a better life,

  • brenda horn

    the issue here would be to find people who are working and can afford to pay the monthly house costs, most people who are homeless are also jobless, because they cant keep clean or have food to function and turn to addictions or crime and then they cant get jobs, detroit has become the welfare line not a the working class, and look at the run down buildings, this proves to me that the buildings are there for shelter,but the previous people didnt care enough to keep them liviable and trash the buildings why because they can, so why give people like that starter homes when they cant respect housing they first had

  • Ok Peace

    This lady is awesome and with the brand idea I wish I could do that but I don't have the financial means I'm glad she did she can to help others cuz America does have a terrible homeless problem that's going to get worse because rents are higher than what the average person makes in a whole month she deserves a pair of wings

  • mike John

    If a home lot can have two tiny homes (subdivided lot) and taxes are minimal go for it. There is no reason two tiny homes under 800 sq feet can't share a normal size lot thus providing almost the amount of tax as was before. The problem with this if complied with is greed at the end of manufacturers material suppliers driving up the cost because a market has been created for them to profit from. GREED KILLS.

  • mike John

    If Detroit provides jobs does more about crime and allows average size lots to be subdivided for two tiny homes it may work but you can't give away a lot to someone in a crime filled city or over taxed state like California.

  • Maria J C de Souza

    Very nice houses.
    But the problem is not exactly being born in proverty, but to get used to rely on government help to just get by , which is very demeaning in the long run…
    On the other side of the coin, we see non english speaking immigrants, some even illiterate, making a neuf money to have a decent life and some extra to send to their native countries to help their relatives..

  • ron gants

    To save Detroit the rule of law must be reestablished. Those tiny homes will just turn into more abandoned crack houses because of crime and violence. You're going to have to enforce the law and lock the criminals up if you want civilization.

  • steven heckert

    Itโ€™s about striking a balance, giving someone pride of ownership of something uniquely theirs (hence the variety of styles) while at the same time trying to achieve the cost savings of collective resources (Iโ€™m not sure of the proper term of what I am trying to say so I just made the term up, itโ€™s not meant to represent collectivism or socialism).
    You could have easily just built a 20 unit single bedroom apartment building with maybe a communal laundry and storage in the basement and stuck 20-30 slot parking lot on it, then made it a low income or rent assisted property, but then what does that accomplish? There is very little possessive pride in that existence and that is what you need to create, sustain and allow to thrive in order to restore the spirit of community. Maybe places like Detroit would better serve its citizens by being broken up into smaller self governed communities. When you have blocks after blocks of abandoned properties maybe a process of (re)settlement would be a better idea. Take a roughly 100 square block area and convert it into its own community. Limit the through access so that the traffic is nearly 100% local, establish a visual boundary around it and then build from there.
    The industrial revolution and itโ€™s emerging technology force population centers to concentrate its population density, but the advances in technology since the mid 1900s saw a reverse of those tides but unfortunately has seen major cities resisting the call to downsize and give back the communities it annexed during expansion. I look at my own home of Milwaukee and I see where those areas that were annexed into Milwaukee and how they fared compared to those communities that managed to resist annexation.

    Maybe the philosophy behind anti trust laws should be applied to governments as well as corporations

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