Big Problem of Homelessness Gets A Small Solution: Tiny Homes Opened Friday

Jul 22, 2016

Dolphus Johnson cutting ribbon on new tiny home on Rose St. in Syracuse
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

  A unique approach to housing the homeless took a step forward today when a small duplex opened in Syracuse to give two people a home of their own.  The tiny homes might be a novelty; the purpose might also be unique.

When Dolphus Johnson cut the ribbon, he was officially opening his new residence.  A duplex with each unit measuring only about 300 square feet.  IN his unit, the twin bed is just a step from the dresser, which sidles up to the chair,..which is about two paces to the small table and kitchen in a roughly five-foot alcove.  

Andrew Lunetta heads up Tiny Homes for Good, the non-profit that will act as landlord for the property. The group is also building more tinyhomes to help homeless.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News


A non profit – Tiny Homes for Good will be the landlord.  Andrew Lunetta came up with the idea as a better way to help the homeless.

“I just can’t help but think that if I was living in a shelter, or if I was living on the streets, it would be so hard to maintain appointments, keep up with employment, make sure my stuff is safe.  I think this is the most important thing, having a stable foundation, having a safe place with a ready address.  All that stuff is super important, then you can address underlying issues.”

Residents will be offered other services through a case mange, such as mental health services, job training, substance issues and other factors some homeless people experience.  

Kitchen, table and bathroom are neatly designed into the small footprint of the home.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

  The project was mostly funded by donations, donated labor and materials.   Mayor Stephanie Miner sees it as another example of Syracuse’s creative response to the homeless.

“You saw us very publicly say we weren’t going to arrest homeless people.  You saw us work with our faith community to build relationships with homeless people, to help get them off the streets and keep them safe.  This is another multi-faceted effort to say ‘you’re members of our community.  We want to keep you safe.  We want to help you have a good quality of life.’ And what you saw here was a committed group of private citizens who say, ‘we’re not going to ask the government to do it all.  We’re not going to blame the government; we’re going to do it ourselves.’”

A bed and chair round out the furnishings that make up the home's amenities.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

  This project was for two homeless veterans…and more tiny houses are planned.  Another three just broke ground and should be finished this fall.  Lunetta says he’s also looking for more lots on which to construct the little homes – which he hopes make a big difference in addressing homelessness.