Chippewa Valley (WQOW) - It's been a tiny project in the making since the beginning of January 2016, and on Monday, project leaders are one step closer to their big goal of helping those in need.
Project leaders with Hope Village said they are in discussions with an owner near downtown Chippewa Falls to purchase property for Hope Village, a small community made up of tiny homes to house people who are homeless. They declined to comment on the specific locations of the property but said it would be in close proximity to the Chippewa County Courthouse, housing authority and other community resources. They said the projected space for Hope Village is about 20,600 square feet of space for 12 tiny homes and a common building. Recently, an Eau Claire based landscape design company called, Artisans of the Earth, designed a new site plan for Hope Village in the potential property. Project leaders said the design plan was created and donated at no cost to them.
Michael Cohoon, the youth pastor at Landmark Christian Church who is one of the creators of Hope Village, said the common building would house an intake office, a retail shop, which would help retain funds to run the village, and studio apartments on the upper level for temporary housing for individuals who are transitioning, as well as a garden and greenhouse. "The houses would actually be inside a gated area so pretty private for the people who live there. But also, for those driving by you're really going to see a storefront more so than all of the tiny houses,” Cohoon said.
Larry Larson, who helped develop the project and build the tiny homes, said for the most part, the response from the community has been positive, but there are some community members who are not on board with the project in their neighborhood. He said homelessness is an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed. "The problem becomes that old saying, 'It's a great idea but just not in my neighborhood', and that's unfortunate, because the reality is possible problems that people may think if they think this comes to a neighborhood near you soon is that those problems already exist,” Larson said.
Project leaders said while they have a possible site in the works for Hope Village, they do not have the funds to purchase it just yet. They said they need to raise at least $100,000 and hope to kick off a fundraising campaign in January. Currently, they are building the fifth tiny house for the project.