Coalition plans village of tiny houses for Reno homeless

Coalition plans village of tiny houses for Reno homeless | Idaho Statesman
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A coalition of faith-based and human services groups is trying to raise money and find suitable land to build a village of tiny houses for the homeless in Reno.

Pat Cashell, a regional director of Volunteers for America, and Sharon Chamberlain, CEO of Northern Nevada HOPES, presented their plan for the village to the Reno City Council on Wednesday. They want to construct 40 bare-bone houses in order provide shelter for the chronically homeless, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported .

Fashioned after similar projects in Oregon and Washington state, the minimalistic houses would not have bathrooms or kitchens inside. The houses would surround a central structure that would contain the cooking and bathroom facilities.

Each house would cost about $3,800, and the project would rely on community support for supplies and labor, Cashell said.

The project would need a $270,000 operating budget to support a manager and case workers who would work on connecting residents to other social services and permanent housing, Chamberlain said.

Because the structures would not meet city zoning and building code requirements, the project would require exemptions.

"We have to figure out a way how we weave this type of housing into our array of housing choices that is not contrary to the codes we have set for our other forms of housing," Assistant City Manager Bill Thomas said.

Other communities have exempted religious organizations from zoning requirements and have created ordinances to allow for such encampments, Thomas said. But the city would need to vet those options before selecting this route, he said.

Councilwoman Neoma Jardon said she has been pushing for a tiny-home project and would like to see something happen in 90 days. "The homeless shelter is full, and the overflow shelter is overflowing," Jardon said.

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