AP News says churches are using spare land to build tiny home communities to accommodate the homeless.
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. -AP
More than half a million Americans were homeless in 2020, and the number has likely climbed as shelter costs if renting or owning have exploded, triggering the worst ever housing affordability crisis on record. As we've previously noted, soaring shelter costs force people into homelessness.
Days ago, we outlined how a tidal wave of evictions could be ahead with 8.4 million Americans, or about 15% of all renters were behind rent payments. Of that, 3.5 million said they could be evicted within the next two months. Unlike the pandemic, the federal eviction moratorium prevented people from ending up on the streets, though the moratorium has since expired during the worst inflation storm in four decades.
Jeff O'Rourke, lead pastor of Mosaic Christian Community in St. Paul, Minnesota, embraced tiny homes as a housing solution. He said his church uses "every square inch of property that we have to be hospitable."
Meridian Baptist Church in El Cajon, California, partnered with local nonprofit Amikas to construct a tiny home community to address the homelessness crisis.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, Firm Foundation Community Housing, launched by Rev. Jake Medcalf, has erected a tiny home housing community in the parking lot of First Presbyterian Church of Hayward.
The First Christian Church of Tacoma in Washington erected an entire village of tiny homes in their parking lot.
"We don't have a lot of money. We don't have a whole lot of people … but we care a lot about it, and we've got this piece of property," said the Rev. Doug Collins, the church's senior minister.
Donald Whitehead, director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, told AP the move by churches across the country to build tiny home communities is a "great emergency option" amid today's economy that hasn't worked for everyone.
Maybe all of these tiny home communities springing up at US churches should be dubbed "Bidenvilles," similar to the shacktowns built during the Great Depression in the 1930s called "Hoovervilles."
More of these communities will be constructed as the eviction tidal wave nears.