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Photos of Detroit's Tiny House Cass Community

After less than a year of planning the first Cass tiny home was recently completed on Elmhurst Street on Detroit’s west side. Today, we got to tour it.

Tiny homes for everyone! Ok, that might be an exaggeration, and Oprah wasn’t in town. But in all seriousness, the plan is to have 25 tiny homes for people who qualify for the program.

Detroit Tiny House on Elmhurst

Reverend Faith Fowler came up with the idea to build tiny homes in the area by the Cass Community campus near Elmhurst and the Lodge freeway to give people the opportunity to rent a home and after seven years they could own it outright.

The project is estimated to cost $1.5 million to complete the 25 tiny homes. They have raised roughly $700,000 to date. This includes $400,000 from the Ford Fund.

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“This project is really a game changer, not only for people who are living in these homes. Most of whom I’m willing to bet have never been able to say ‘I live in my own home.’ That sounds pretty simple to say, because most of us probably live in our own homes,” said Jim Vella, Ford Fund President.

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The homes will range from 250 square feet up to 400 square feet. The home we toured today was 300 square feet. Each home will be completely unique from each other. Being unique was something that Rev. Fowler felt was extremely important.

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“I believe that by having a different house, a unique house, a distinctive house that you will have pride in it. In a way you won’t if everyone lives in the same rectangle and you can tell where everyone’s sofa is and bathroom is. We really wanted it to be unique. And it will be the only place in the United States where 25 different houses will be on two blocks.” said Fowler.

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Each home takes between five to seven weeks to build, so the goal is to have the first seven people moved into their homes by the end of October or the beginning of November.

Kitchen of Detroit Tiny House

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Loft Inside Detroit's Tiny House

So what about the people who qualify to live in this tiny community?

The residents of these homes will be low to moderate income. They do need to have some income coming in, and this could include SSI (disability benefits).

“This is a program about aspirations. This isn’t just a housing program. This program is ready for people who are ready. They have to have some income, they can’t have no income. It could be SSI income, $750 a month is enough to rent a small house and then in seven years you could own that house.” said Rev. Fowler.

These homes are targeted towards formerly homeless men and women, students, seniors, and Cass staff members. Their goal is to have at least half of the homes occupied by someone who used to be homeless.

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There is a pretty in-depth application process to be considered for the tiny homes. There is an extensive background check (including criminal history), applicants must meet HUD guidelines, be U.S. Citizens, and they also have an interview.

Rent for the homes is based off the square footage of each home. If someone is living in a 400 square foot home, their rent will be $400 (or one dollar per square foot). The only other bill that the residents will have for the house is electricity. The heating in the house is electric. They estimate that the electric bill including heat in February should be around $30 a month.

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Below, a future tiny house is being laid out.

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Cass still has a lot of money to raise in order finish Rev. Fowler’s vision of 25 tiny homes, however no amount is too small. Rev. Fowler spoke about a young girl who donated $25 from her lemonade stand, because everyone deserves to have a home.

Cass will also take any home building materials that you are not using. Supporters donated stones, granite countertops, shingles and roofing materials, and landscaping services which were all used in the first house.

If you are interested in donating money or materials you can contact Cass Community Services.