Bridging the Opportunity Divide

These Frat Brothers Are Using Tiny Houses to Change the Lives of the Homeless

November 20, 2014
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These Frat Brothers Are Using Tiny Houses to Change the Lives of the Homeless
A fraternity in Huntsville, Alabama plans to build a village of tiny homes, similar to this model, for the local homeless population. Nicolas Boullosa/Flickr
Forget cans of beer. These guys are reaching for hammers and nails.

When the idea of frat brothers comes to mind, most of us probably conjure up images of crazy college parties. However, one fraternity is defying the stereotype and extending the notion of brotherhood to an unlikely group: the homeless.

Huntsville, Ala. has a substantial homeless population and a large portion of it is comprised of veterans. Fortunately, the Phi Kappa Phi fraternity at the University of Alabama – Huntsville has a solution in mind. In operation for less than a year, the members of frat have been working toward creating a tiny homes village for those without shelter in their community.

The idea began to develop after members of the group encountered a homeless man at a local Sonic restaurant. Moved by the experience, the frat brothers started having regular meals with various members of the homeless community, which inspired them to become more involved.

“Me and my brothers were like, ‘we want to do something about this,’” Phi Kappa Phi president Taylor Reed tells WHNT News.

With the help of Foundation for Tomorrow and the Help Our Veterans and Civilians organization, Phi Kappa Phi began plans for a tiny homes village, which will consist of multiple residences that are less than 500 square feet, are mobile and are fully equipped. To create an inclusive feeling, the village will also include a community garden that will be maintained by the residents as well as a space where a group meal will be consumed at least once a week.

Each unit costs about $5,000 to build, and about 30 homes can fit on one acre of land, which is the amount that the Foundation for Tomorrow is hoping to receive from the city of Huntsville. Alabama Center for Sustainable Energy has already volunteered to supply solar panels for the homes. Further, the frat brothers plan to build all of the homes themselves with the assistance of their fellow community members.

In order to raise the funds, Phi Kappa Phi is currently operating a website fundraiser. Their goal? To raise $10,000 and, as of November 19, they have raised $6,493.

For Help Our Homeless Veterans and Civilians CEO Rusty Loiselle, these homes are a rare and needed opportunity.

“Get them out of cardboard boxes and into these tiny homes while they go through re-training and get the assistance they need,” Loiselle tells WHNT News. “These tiny homes are a step towards nice solid housing, it’s a step up.”

MORE: Portland is About to Get Tons of Tiny Homes That Can Shelter the Homeless

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