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17 acres purchased for tiny-home village in Cullman, AL

 

Our dream of building a tiny-home village to help people transition out of homelessness has suddenly come one giant step closer to reality! In mid-August, by faith, we put an offer in on a 17 acre property. Our offer was accepted and we had 45 days to raise the $60,000 that was needed. Although a little nervous, we were believing that the Lord would provide the needed funds. However, we didn’t know exactly how.

We were all amazed when in only fourteen days, the need was exceeded through our generous supporters! Not only was enough given, but more than enough! We have now closed on the land and own it free and clear. All of us are very thankful and grateful at what God has done. Many people gave generously and sacrificially to make the purchase of this property happen and we thank God for every gift.

The property is located at 7145 HWY 278 West in Cullman. That’s in the Bethel community just past the caution light on the left. The property is completely wooded so there will need to be a lot of clearing done, but it should make a great village. 

AN ADVANCED, SUPPORTIVE HOUSING PROGRAM

This program is for people who are well enough emotionally, socially, and spiritually, to be able to function independently, yet they would greatly benefit from structure and accountability. The purpose of the village is to help the residents reach their greatest potential through our three pillars of discipleship, education, and personal responsibility.

Case management will be the driving force behind each resident's program experience. The case management will start BEFORE the applicant is admitted into the program. Outlining a 1-3 year life plan along with measurable goals and outcomes will be part of the entry process.

The residents will:

  • Attend weekly church services and discipleship classes.

  • Work through a program workbook and attend at least one general program class per week. (These classes would focus on recovery type issues, personal responsibility, making choices, personal finances, etc. Every resident would attend this class and go through this program workbook.)

  • Complete weekly reading assignments and participate in discussion groups.

  • Attend weekly or bi-weekly case-specific classes or tutoring. (An example of this would be if a particular resident needed parenting skills classes.)

  • Gain employment outside of the village.

  • Meet once per week with case manager to assess progress.

  • Participate in weekly work therapy at the village (building, yard work, upkeep, gardening, etc).

 

The residents will:

  • Be responsible for maintaining and cleaning their space.

  • Abide by the general rules and guidelines of the program and ministry.

  • Agree to random drug/alcohol testing.

  • Agree to weekly and random house inspections (these house checks will be to monitor cleanliness and upkeep as well as to check for prohibited items such as weapons, illegal drugs, alcohol, persons, etc.).

A MULTI-PHASE PLAN

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PHASE ONE

  • Purchase the land

  • Infrastructure work

  • Building a workshop

  • Building campsites

  • Building four homes

  • Building the offices & management area

Construction Worker

PHASE TWO

  • Building the resource center

  • Expanding the infrastructure

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PHASE THREE

  • Final infrastructure needs

  • Building additional homes

THE NEXT STEPS

As of 2/24/22, the site plan has been completed and the engineers are currently working on completing the other design documents that will be the blueprints used for grading and installing the basic infrastructure for phase one. The next steps are:

 

  • Receive completed design documents from engineers

  • Receive building permits

  • Clear the areas for the roadways and phase one homes

  • Build the phase one road system

  • Build the offices

  • Build the first four homes

  • Build the security house, bath house and laundry mat

  • Build the RV spaces

PHASE ONE DETAILS

We will create a master site plan that takes into consideration all phases of the complete project. Then, build out the infrastructure and utilities with that in mind. The complete infrastructure doesn’t have to be developed at this phase but depending on cost of doing certain portions all at one time, we may build some of it out during phase I.

Infrastructure work that needs to be completed:

  • Boundary survey

  • Topo survey

  • Environmental survey

  • Clear the land removing most pines and saving most hardwoods

  • Digging the stumps and clearing underbrush

  • Master site plan- We have an engineer that is currently drawing the plans for us.

  • Entrances, roads, etc.

  • Build a shop- We purchased a 1/2 acre lot that connects to our property. There is an existing building on this lot that we hope to turn into a shop. We might need to add to it but this will be a good start.

  • Install tornado shelter

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Image by Andrey Haimin

OUR MODEL HOME IS NOW COMPLETE!

 

We invite you to come see our new model home that is now complete. This home is situated in the parking lot of our newly built shop at 7145 highway 278 West in Cullman, AL. The model home is 10’x24’ and represents what the future home we build will look like. You will notice the detailed craftsmanship inside and out. The home was purchased locally from Elite Portable Buildings in Danville, AL. Many volunteers came together to build out the interior. Some of the features of this home are:

  • Spray foam insulation

  • 3/4” think shiplap interior walls

  • Waterproof vinyl plank flooring

  • Custom made, real wood cabinets

  • Mini-split heat and air system

  • 100 amp electric panel

  • 20 gallon water heater

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BUILDING THE HOMES

The homes will be 14×40 (approximate size) locally made portable buildings. One of those will be used as an office/supervisors lodging. That home will be converted into housing after the completion of phase II. The other three homes will be used as housing during phase I. These homes will have a complete bath and kitchen and will be finished out on the inside with a cottage type feel. They will be very nice and suitable for single people or a small family.

We are praying for local volunteers and also mission teams to come help with finishing the inside of the homes, plumbing, electrical, landscaping, etc.

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PHASE ONE OPERATIONS 

Since the village will be advanced, supportive housing, each resident will have a case manager who guides them through the program. Their goals and objectives must be laid out prior to being granted entry into the program.

 

During the first phase, our program will operate on a limited basis with three to four homes in operation. We anticipate this limited operation for a little over a year or until Phase II nears completion. The Phase I homes are designed with full kitchens so the residents can prepare their own meals without the aid of our fellowship hall which comes in Phase II. 

During Phase I we anticipate having a security point, offices, four homes, two RV sites, and a bathhouse with laundry mat.

Image by Alex Jones

PHASE ONE COSTS 

 

Land clearing and infrastructure work- $175,000

 

Houses- $168,000 ($42,000 per house)

 

Total projected cost- $343,000

 

Total amount raised- $167,867

Amount still needed- $175,133

VOLUNTEER INFORMATION

As this project continues, volunteers will be needed for various aspects of the construction.

 

Listed below are some of the areas we will be seeking volunteers to fill.

  • Heavy equipment work building roads and moving dirt

  • Site prep work

  • Engineering

  • Septic system installation

  • Electricians

  • Plumbers

  • Painters

  • Finish carpenters

  • Landscaping

Image by Greyson Joralemon

FAQ’s

  • When will the first homes be built? We will bring the first homes in after the infrastructure work is completed. We cannot start on the homes until we can safely have access to the property with the proper roads, electrical, and other infrastructure being in place.

  • When will the village open? As far as a time frame, we are unsure at this point. It will depend upon the completion of the infrastructure work and the availability of funding for the project.

  • How will the development be funded? The development of the village will be funded through private donations. We don’t anticipate accepting government funding. Private grants through foundations and workplaces are always welcome.

  • Why the village concept and not a homeless shelter? We believe that the concept of a village will better serve our guests by adding more dignity to their lives. In the village setting, we will be able to tailor the program to the needs of each individual. The village will provide community, semi-independent living, and personal responsibility. All of these are necessary for transitioning back into functioning society and we believe the village will give a head start for the guests.

  • Is this a homeless shelter? No. The village ministry is intended for a level above a shelter. It is for people who are now ready to improve their lives through discipleship and education.

  • Will you provide emergency shelter? No.

  • How will you keep the neighbors safe?  We will have a gated community policy to ensure we know who is coming and going from the property. Security cameras as well as on-site staff will monitor guests and property at all times. A thorough application and evaluation process will ensure that the guests we house are not prone to crime or violence.

  • Is this a rehab? No. Our program is designed for people who are not current substance abusers.

  • Can I rent one of the tiny homes? No. The village is a supportive housing program, not rentals. Each guests who lives at the village will be there to go through our program.

  • Will someone live in the model home that is in front of your shop? No. That home is there to serve as a model so that the community can see what the homes in the village will look like.

  • Who is designing the development? We have hired St. John and Associates in Cullman, AL to engineer and design this project.

  • Why is it being built out in the county and not in the city? We want to build a private, peaceful, environment where our guests can focus on putting their lives back together. This quiet, country setting will provide that atmosphere. In addition, there are far less building codes in the county, giving us more freedom and cost effectiveness as we design the village.

  • How will you determine who can stay there? We will have an extensive evaluation process that includes a background check, sex offender registry check, a detailed application, and other requirements prior to entry. The village is for people who need a hand up. It is not a place for current drug or alcohol abusers.

  • How long can a guest stay? The village is intended to be a mid-term to long term supportive housing  program. Each guest will work with a case manager to determine their length of stay. Most will stay between 6-12 months.

  • Where do I send a donation? Donations should be made payable to Unsheltered International and mailed to P.O. Box 2625 Cullman, AL 35056

We are grateful to the following businesses for donating their time, effort, and services towards this project.

 

Ed's Heating & Cooling - Cullman, AL 

 

M.D. Wells Plumbing Service LLC - Crane Hill, AL 

 

Calvert Spray Foam - Cullman, AL 

Wooten Cabinets - Myrtle, MS

St. John & Associates - Cullman, AL 

JD Crowson Electric - Cullman, AL 

 

James G. Swift & Associates – Augusta, GA

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