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Tiny Home Village Aims To Address Homelessness, Health In Bozeman

Tiny houses on display during Build Small Live Large 2017 in Portland, Oregon.
DanDavidCook/FLICKR (CC By-SA 4.0)
Tiny houses on display during Build Small Live Large 2017 in Portland, Oregon.

An organization in Bozeman recently received half-a-million dollars to jumpstart Montana’s first tiny home village for people facing chronic homelessness.

As Gallatin County’s population has grown, so has the number of people without a roof over their head. Tracy Menuez is an associate director with the non-profit Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) in Bozeman.

She says a lot of her customers looking for housing stability want their own place — not an apartment.

“Most apartment buildings, particularly those that have been built in the 70s and 80s as subsidized housing, they have narrow hallways; they’re loud,” says Menuez.

She says one person told her, “With all the noise in that building, it’s just really hard for me to focus on just my own mental well-being.”

That led to the idea of building a village of tiny houses — about 200 square foot units with their own bathrooms and kitchens.

You can really I think see how having your own four walls and some quiet space and a little bit of green space would be really good for people who have been suffering from trauma,” says Menuez.

The mortgage association Fannie Mae in May announced HRDC received one of five contract awards through its nationally competitive Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge. June first kicked off HRDC’s two-year contract to build at least 12 tiny homes and create a guidebook for other communities to replicate this project.

Menuez says residents in the tiny home village will pay 30 percent of their income on rent, which is a benchmark of affordable housing. They will also have access to services ranging from behavioral health assistance to support with light housework.

She says it also fits into the community’s wider housing issues.

“Bozeman’s Affordable Housing Needs Assessment noted there is housing need along the entire housing continuum. So this is one tool in the box to work within that very low income population that is most in danger of being homeless and most in danger of being displaced from housing in the community,” says Menuez.

HRDC is partnering with Montana State University, the Urban Institute and St. James Church. Menuez says they are still trying to decide on a suitable location.