Housing coalition planning tiny house village

Chad Frey
The McPherson Housing Coalition is planning "Oak Harbor Cottages," a settlement of 10 tiny homes similar to a project in Bartlesville, Okla., to give the organization flexibility helping people who find themselves homeless.
The McPherson Housing Coalition is planning "Oak Harbor Cottages," a settlement of 10 tiny homes similar to a  project in Bartlesville, Okla. The Oak Harbor Cottages will also have a playground and a basement under the manager's house for meetings and a storm shelter.

There is a new, unique housing project coming to the city of McPherson, put together by the McPherson Housing Coalition over the course of the past several months. 

The coalition is looking to build several "tiny homes" under the banner of "Oak Harbor Cottages" on the corner of S. Oak and E. Skanke. The 10 homes — about 460 square feet each — will be there to help people get back on their feet after life changes render them homeless or near homeless. 

It is a response to the phone calls that come in too often — a family sleeping in their car because they have no place to go. The coalition can help, but sometimes there is a struggle and a wait. 

"We often have no place to put them," said Chris Goodson, coalition member. "It can often take me two or three weeks to find a house for them. Now we won't have that (problem). I can get them in some place much, much quicker and they don't have to hop from couch to couch or sleep in cars. ... This will give us more flexability to help our families."

This project is the brainchild of Goodson, one of the founding members of the McPherson Area Contractors Association. She wrote her master's thesis about this project. Last fall she and the coalition gathered a group of community members to discuss the idea. 

The result is 10 small houses and a home for a project manager that will contain a basement/meeting area. 

"These will be our units so people can move into these for six months," Goodson said. "This is really to get them back on their feet after something has happened — the loss of a job, the death of family member, lots of different things. Medical debt has pushed them out the door. We want to get them back on their feet and give them case management and what they need."

The housing coalition will work with other nonprofits to assist the families who move into the tiny homes, working to get them into a home of their own over the course of a few months. 

"We will wrap them with services that not only we provide, but other services in the community," Goodson said. "Once that happens they can move from our tiny home villiage to more permanent housing."

Groundbreaking is set for spring or early summer. The small homes will feature two bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, dining area and kitchen. They will be fully furnished and have built-in appliances.

There is a planned playground for children, and children will be able to ride their tricycles on the paved walkways planned to run through the property and a shared courtyard.

The manager's home will have a basement with outdoor access that can be used for classes and other gatherings by residents of Oak Harbor Cottages.

"We will have a manager on site. ... They will take care of the complex and help the families," Goodson said. "I don't want the police there all the time or anything negative. The manager will make sure the people living there will follow all the rules. ... We already have some people step forward about offering some classes on budgeting and all kinds of stuff."

A groundbreaking date has not been set. Drainage issues on the site need to be dealt with first. The coalition is working toward having its site plan approved by the planning zoning commission at this time. 

Cost are estimated to be between $40,000 and $50,000 a unit. Donald Bland Jr., a longtime McPherson resident, is serving as the project coordinator. Plans have been drawn up and are going through the city approval process.

"I think with some volunteer labor and donated materials we should be able to get the cost down a little bit," Goodson said. "... This will be done with donations and donated labor. Right now we have raised enough money for two houses and a church has volunteered to build the first house."

For more information, visit the coalition Facebook page at www.mcphersonhousingcoalition.org or contact Goodson at 620-241-7828, ext. 11.