CONWAY, Ark. (KATV) — Tiny house living is a growing movement across the country, including right here in Arkansas. Now, one Conway man is hoping these tiny homes will be a solution for homelessness in his community.
Phillip Fletcher, founder of City of Hope Outreach, a non-profit organization that shelters and mentors those in need, says there are roughly 200 homeless people in the Conway area.
“In 2014 I went from a four-bedroom house to moving into an apartment, then from there I went to a homeless shelter,” Anthony Stufflebean said. He doesn’t have four walls and a roof to call home—he’s been living in his car since July of 2017.
“When it rains, it pours,” Stufflebean said, listing his series of unfortunate events including the death of his parents and a hip surgery that cost him his job.
“People look upon the homeless as a problem because they say they’re lazy,” Stufflebean said, explaining that he’s anything but, and is just one of many in the community who doesn’t have a place to call his own.
“Every human being has this innate desire to have a place to live, to have some food in their stomach, and work,” Fletcher said.
That’s why City of Hope Outreach is creating Hope Village. Right now, it’s just an empty plot of land beside COHO’s building, but according to Fletcher, ten tiny homes, all less than 1,000 square feet, will soon occupy the space.
“It would help the homeless not be homeless. It would help families,” Stufflebean added.
Fletcher says the $30,000-dollar plot of land is set to be home to nearly 40 people—those who are homeless, veterans, and low-income families—by the end of the year. It could be the light at the end of the very dark tunnel that’s been Stufflebean’s life for the past few years.
“We don’t want to create a ghetto of homeless people. What we want to do is create a mixed environment in which people from different backgrounds can come together, live together, and blossom together,” Fletcher said. “We want to create an environment where these houses are just like any other neighborhood in our city of Conway.”
Homelessness, according to Fletcher, required different solutions. He explains that shelters are one way to get people off the street in an emergency, but COHO is taking a more solid approach.
“What would it look like instead of building a shelter where we just put people in one large room and in bunk beds? What would it look like if every person had their own home?” Fletcher remarked, adding that he believes it’s a more humane and cost-effective initiative.
When Fletcher presented the idea of Hope Village to the city, it was welcomed with open arms and was approved unanimously.
Fletcher tells us COHO has paid for about a third of the plot of land so far, and that the goal is to break ground Fall of 2018. Construction companies are currently placing bids for the tiny homes; meanwhile COHO plans to start raising money for the project.