Miniature Homes: A Possible Solution For San Angelo's Homeless
SAN ANGELO, TX –. At the beginning of June, an ordinance was enforced in San Angelo that banned camping under the Houston Heart Overpass near Bryant Street. The location came to be know as "Tent City" and many of the homeless living there relocated to short-term shelters after the ordinance was put into effect. Many non-profits in San Angelo have made efforts to help the homeless, however, one group wants to provide a long-term hosing solution for the homeless in San Angelo. ARKCentric Community Solutions is a ministry in San Angelo dedicated to helping those who are homeless or in deep poverty.
President of ARKCentric Scott Heiser wants the people of San Angelo to come together and help those who are less fortunate in the community.
“We want the people of San Angelo to want to help those who are less fortunate than them,” Heiser said. Creating relationships is the bases of the ministry. The ARKCentric community makes an effort to learn more about the people suffering from deep poverty or homelessness. Their target goal is to reach 500 individuals and families who are motivated to build a life and leave homelessness and poverty behind.
ARKCentric plans on maintaining their goal by focusing on long-term housing for the homeless and eventually turning the "village" of mini-homes into a small community. The message the ministry uses throughout this effort has been "building homes not shleters."
Heiser defined the level of severe poverty as a single household income of $6,000 a year. He added that in San Angelo alone, there are about 5,000 families who live below the severe poverty line.
Neighborhood and Family Services Director Bob Salas believes the number of residents facing severe poverty is around 5,000, however, getting an exact number of the homeless individuals staying in San Angelo is a challenge. The Concho Valley Homeless Planning coalition performed a survey in 2017 using the Texas Homeless Network to gain feedback from individuals facing homelessness and poverty in the area.
In reference to this data, Hesier wants ARKCentric housing ministry to help eliminate many of the barriers facing homeless people.
“Our society creates barriers for those who are less fortunate,” Heiser explained.
These barriers include, the need for ID when applying for jobs, needing to show a birth certificate to get a replacement ID, and asking for those who have no set income to pay fees to replace a lost ID or birth certificate.
He further explained that a homeless person may have had their ID stolen, and when asked to present identification using a birth certificate they wouldn't have theirs accessible at the time.
“We rob [the less fortunate] of the incentive to improve their own lives,” Heiser explained. “ARKCentric wants to give them the chance to be independent.”
There are three requirements to be eligible for leasing a tiny home:
- Residents need to be willing to work, or at least help out around the village in an exchange equivalent to the value of rent.
- Not be a convicted sex offender as families may be residents in the village.
- Are considered to be in deep poverty or be homeless.
Heiser thinks the processes of nurturing independence will help with teaching the homeless important social skills, and give them an opportunity to be part of a neighborhood and socialize with other people. As the ministry is focused on building relationships they want to help improve the lives of others by providing a healthy diet, urging social interaction through group meetings, and providing a system of care.
“We understand where the ministry stands,” Heiser explained. “We want to be sure the vision is clear going forward.”
The base goal is to build 15 units in each village, 13 for residents, one for a property manager to monitor the village, and one community house for social gatherings.
Heiser said he would like to add multiple villages to San Anglo between two plots of land spread out over 10 acres. Each village would take up two acres, meaning five villages between both plots. Should the community of villages find its start, Heiser plans to work with MHMR Services and the Conch Valley Alcohol Drug Abuse Council to create a Community Center for the villages that will assist with mental health and substance abuse issues. Heiser would also like to work with Workforce Solutions of the Concho Valley to get job training for those living in the village.
This would be done with “little duplication as possible” by using the current health services to assist the village, Heiser stated.
“We need to develop our own flow, we know what we want to accomplish,” he added.
Furthermore, Heiser wants residents to feel independent and gain a greater appreciation that comes with working for what they have. If the first village was not successful then ARKCentric would take a step back to reevaluate the plan moving forward.
The following is a rough timeline of events Heiser has planned. The rest of 2017 has been set aside to complete the blueprints and designs of the mini-homes residents would stay in. Going into 2018, ARKCentric hopes to secure a plot of land and then begin building the first village. In 2019 they would repeat the process and continue to do so until all villages are formed. The finished project of four villages is projected to take seven years once the first village is developed.
“This is a long term process,” Heiser said. "It takes time, and it takes community."
Overall cost for the village:
The cost of one mini-home is $20,000, scaled down 50 percent from the $60,000 luxury mini-home being used as an example for ARKCentric.
Currently, Heiser is looking for an engineering firm that would willing to do pro-bono work by drawing up the blueprints and design of the model homes. Eventually, after securing land rights for the first village, he could get a construction company to start working on the units.
“We want to create a system of care so nobody falls through the cracks,” Heiser added. “Nobody should have to go without the resources they need to succeed.
The total cost for the project is an estimated $550,000 per village.
Those expenses includes LED electrical lighting fixtures, indoor composting toilets not requiring a septic or sewage system, and having the sink and shower used with Grey water collection that’s rerouted to a filter for landscape water. This cost would also include an on-demand electric water heater with a filtered water system to increase the life of the unit.
The mini-homes will be 12.5 feet wide and 24 feet long providing 264 sq ft of living space.
Heiser did state that the property manager would oversee all residents, leasing, rent collection, and maintenance/repairs to name a few of their responsibilities. In addition, a background check would be required for an applicant’s rental history, criminal history, and income. However, this will not prevent an applicant from leasing a home, with the exception of those convicted of child molestation or rape.
There is no time restriction on how long a resident may lease a home, however, individual responsibility will fall on a resident to maintain their home, Heiser stated. This includes mowing the lawn by using the provided equipment, and helping out around the community.
Heiser believes this project will help get people back on their feet and create a feeling of independence for those who have lost so much in their lives.