Tiny Houses need one more big push to become a reality

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org

A trio of tiny houses needs one more big push to become a reality for people in need in St. Louis.

The Tiny Houses Project will place three tiny homes — each measuring 14 by 26 feet — on a lot near Sts. Teresa and Bridget Parish in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood of north St. Louis.

The joint effort helps to address, in a small way, needs of homeless people in the St. Louis area. The project, however, needs about $50,000 to complete work on the foundation, utilities and construction of a third home.

"The project has been a wonderful idea and a great model, and we'd love to see it continue on," said Dianne Marshak of Social Justice 4 All, one of several groups behind the project. "The challenge right now is the funding."

A GoFundMe account was set up, with donations going toward costs associated with the building of the houses. Students at Eureka and Rockwood Summit high schools in the Rockwood School District built two of the houses as part of a Geometry in Construction class. A third will be constructed on site.

Other groups involved are North Grand Neighborhood Services, which owns the property and will manage the rental of the units; St. Clare of Assisi School in Ellisville, which raised about $6,700 for the effort and includes funds from a blood drive; and Greg Vatterott Sr., president of Charles F. Vatterott Construction Co., who has helped coordinate the construction.

Members of Social Justice 4 All have met with agencies that work with people who are homeless, including Assisi House, Peter and Paul Community Services and St. Patrick Center, to potentially refer clients as future residents. Social Justice 4 All was founded in 2016 as a group of individuals from faith-based congregations in St. Louis County who want to combat racism and economic injustice in St. Louis. The group primarily focuses on projects in the Ville and Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhoods of north St. Louis.

"We're certainly supportive of the idea and would be happy to talk with them further and make referrals once they're ready for that," said Steve Campbell, executive director of Peter and Paul Community Services. "The concept of tiny houses is a valuable one ... when it's done on a small scale like this."

Rockwood Summit math teacher Gayle Piepho noted in a written reflection on the project that when she started her career 20 years ago, she never imagined that she would be building a house with two dozen teenagers.

"The absolute best part of this class is that we are doing a project that will help struggling families transition into a better life," said Piepho, a parishioner at Incarnate Word in Chesterfield. "Our students take pride in building this house because it will be helping others in difficult situations." 

Help Tiny Houses

To contribute to the Tiny Houses project, visit www.gofundme.com/tinyhouses-stl

Social Justice 4 All

A group of volunteers in north St. Louis and west St. Louis County who are inspired by the Holy Spirit to improve lives for all in St. Louis. For information, visit www.sj4a.org.

North Grand Neighborhood Services

www.ngns.org 

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