Finding the promised land: Unsheltered International signs contract on property for tiny home village

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Prefabricated buildings will be transformed into fully functional living spaces. (Photo courtesy of Unsheltered International)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Unsheltered International (UI) director Travis Sharpe announced Wednesday that the homeless services ministry has come one step closer to its plan for a tiny home village in Cullman County to house homeless individuals and families. The organization signed a contract to purchase 17 acres near the Bethel community in west Cullman County. The circumstances that enabled the purchase seem almost miraculous, but the kind of miracle common in the Cullman area, known for its charitable generosity.

Sharpe told The Tribune, “We’ve been planning this project for quite some time now, and anyway- long story short- we found a piece of property a couple of weeks ago, 17 acres, and we decided to pursue that. We had zero money to start out with, now. In 14 days, the people of Cullman- with a little bit of outside help, but mostly people from Cullman- gave $66,000 for us to purchase this land. That was really awesome, just two weeks. We’ve got a contract on the land, and hopefully, we will be closing in a couple of weeks on that land. So the big hurdle of trying to find and raise money for land is over!

“Now, as we close on it, we will begin raising money and starting the process of clearing land and getting the infrastructure worked and everything ready to move forward with our tiny home village.”

According to Sharpe, the village will be built in phases, using 14- by 40-foot prefabricated buildings set up to provide fully functional living spaces with complete baths and kitchens. The first phase will bring four homes to the site, three capable of serving an individual or small family, and one to be a manager’s office. UI will add four to eight more homes in each of the second and third phases. The total number of homes will be determined by civil engineers as they survey the property and create a site plan, but Sharpe hopes to see up to 12 tiny homes in the wooded setting, fashioned as cottages to give the village what he described as a “state park vibe.”

Said Sharpe, “It’ll be really relaxing, peaceful, a serene type of place. They can get away, so to speak; super nice, a place where people can come and really concentrate on their life and their relationship with God, and overcoming the obstacles in their life that are preventing them from having housing and being functioning members of society. It’s going to be a really awesome place!”

In phase one, according to Sharpe’s presentation on the UI website, “The three homes in this first phase will be used as needed. With these larger, full bath and kitchen houses, we can house families, mothers with children or singles. Phase one will be a time of learning and understanding how to operate the village. The specifics about our program will be developed during this phase as we learn and grow into the operation of the village. These first three homes can be used as emergency housing or longer-term housing. We will adjust the usage depending upon the needs.”

Before houses are moved in, land must be cleared and surveyed for a site plan, a road must be constructed into the site and other infrastructure elements must be completed. Development of the village, not including the purchase of the land, is expected to total between $150,000 and $200,000.

For more on Unsheltered International’s tiny home village project, including how you can support and contribute, visit www.unsheltered.org/tiny-home-village/.

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Just woods now, this patch of land near the Bethel community will become a tiny home community for homeless individuals and families. (Photo courtesy of Unsheltered International)
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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com