TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — According to Mental Health America of West Central Indiana, homelessness is defined as a person without shelter. Research done by the organization shows Vigo County has over 300 people fitting that definition.
To help combat the ongoing issue, an empty lot on the corner of 14th and Chase Streets will soon house living units for those in need.
A groundbreaking was held Tuesday for the first house in a Tiny Homes Village in the Ryves Neighborhood. Each home will be able to house one to two people and will include, a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living space.
“This project is a home for our folks who have lived in our program successfully, that means they’ve paid rent on time, they’ve made income,” Myra Wilkey, Chief Executive Officer with Mental Health American of West Central Indiana, said.
Programs referenced by Wilkey are permanent support housing programs through Mental Health America, that provide citizens shelter.
Citizens are chosen by the highest vulnerability score. Overtime, anyone living in a shelter that continues to show high levels of self-growth and independence could qualify to live in a tiny home.
“What we were missing for those folks is kind of a move on approach for them. This will be a move on program,” Wilkey said.
The construction of tiny homes have been discussed since 2019, however funding was an issue before construction could begin.
Recently, Duke Energy donated $12,500 for the construction of the first home.
“Tiny homes will allow people to go from that to be more independent then a small tiny home. So, that’s what go us interested is being neeighbors and seeing the difference it makes across the street,” Rick Burger, Manager at Duke Energy said.
Future residents living in the studio homes will pay a portion of the rent from their earned income, utilities, and learn basic principles of economics.
“The hope is once they’ve lived there for a couple of years they can move on with more independence, whether that’s saving for a down on payment on a home, another rental, or wherever they’re at. They can do those things and have the foundation to be successful,” Wilkey said.
Helping in the construction of the homes are Indiana State University students. Wilkey stated that the first home has confirmed it’s first resident, who could move in as soon as this winter.