Tiny houses given big re­cep­tion

■ The struc­tures in the new Launch­pad Com­mu­nity are being built to pro­vide a long-term so­lu­tion for home­less­ness.

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Janelle Jessen Staff Writer jjessen@nwadg.com ■

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.

Janelle Jessen/Her­ald-Leader

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.

Photos by Janelle Jessen/Her­ald-Leader

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.

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