Tiny houses given big reception
■ The structures in the new Launchpad Community are being built to provide a long-term solution for homelessness.
Community members on Saturday got a chance to see inside the four new tiny houses in the new Launchpad Community located near the East Kenwood Missionary Baptist Church.
The four houses, which range in size from 400 to 600 square feet, are designed to provide transitional housing for homeless people through Genesis House’s existing JumpStart Program. Each of the homes will eventually house families of up to six people. The open house event was hosted by Genesis House and included tours, a free cookout and lots of fun activities for families.
The open house also marked the kickoff of a fundraising campaign to provide operating costs for the next five years and to raise money for an additional four houses, according to Christina Drake, Genesis House board
member. The organization is selling bricks for $100 that can be inscribed with a sentiment honoring a family or individual, or with a Bible verse. They also began an online fundraiser on the website purecharity.com.
Genesis House is a day shelter for the homeless that provides people with a place to take showers, do laundry, have a hot meal, use the phone and get referrals to other agencies. The organization has also provided limited emergency housing through hotel vouchers in the past.
For the past 18 months, Genesis House has offered a JumpStart Program that offers more sustainable solutions. Currently families are being housed in rental properties for 90 days. They work one-on-one with a counselor who helps them set goals and gives them accountability.
“What I try to do is get to know the family,” said counselor Lisa Burch. “JumpStart Program has allowed me weekly meetings with these folks so I can kind of learn what they value and what’s important to them, and so based on that, we set goals for that family.”
Goals could be anything from working on finances, setting up a spending plan, arranging for family counseling, working to get a family member their GED or helping kids get school supplies.
“There are just so many things that are involved in this program, but depending on what that family needs, we work on it and we meet every single week and do intensive casework,” Burch said.
Of the 19 families that have been through the JumpStart Program so far, more than 90 percent have found longterm success, Burch said.
“We have seen a lot of parents and a lot of kiddos come through this program,” she said. “The goal is self-sustainability after that 90 days with us … probably slightly over 90 percent of that number of families is, to this day, still self-sustaining with income and housing, so I think that’s a fabulous record.”
The current capacity for the Jump-Start Program is 12 families a year, but once the tiny houses are complete the program will be able to help 16 families a year, Drake said. If an additional four houses are complete, that number will increase to 32 families, she said.
The tiny houses have been a community project from the beginning, according to Drake.
Drake and Harvey McCone, Genesis House director, honored about 25 businesses, organizations and individuals who have donated financially to the project during the program. They also thanked an additional 20 businesses, organizations and individuals who have either volunteered or given in-kind services to the project.
The first four houses are about 70 percent complete and are expected to be finished in the next few months, Drake said. Volunteer opportunities will be posted on the East Kenwood Missionary Baptist Church Facebook page, said Pastor Jeremey Wiggington.
More information about the project is available on the Genesis House website, genesishousesiloam.com or on the organization’s Facebook page.
Two of the four tiny houses in the Launchpad Community were open for tours during Saturday’s open house event. The houses are between 400 to 600 square feet and will house families of up to six people. They are about 70 percent complete.
Those who attended the Launchpad Community open house enjoyed a free cookout and picnic under the large trees on the property.
Launchpad Community donors and board members posed for a picture with one of the tiny houses.
The American Legion Post 29 Honor Guard presented the colors before a brief ceremony.
Karl Mounger, right, gave Kathy Henson a high five after purchasing a brick as part of the Genesis House tiny house project fundraiser. Mounger was the first person to purchase a brick, Henson said.
Christina Drake spoke about the Genesis House brick fundraiser. Bricks are available for $100 each.
Families toured the tiny houses, which are about 70 percent complete, during the event.
Gabe Fox and his father, Daniel Fox, played corn hole during the Launchpad Community open house.
Leader David Nava, 10, participated in the punt, pass or kick competition. The game was one of the family activities available at the tiny house reveal.
Steve Sullivant, worship pastor at Community Christian Fellowship, provided live music for the evening.