Construction underway on tiny home village to house homeless in RiNo

Posted at 5:23 PM, May 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-23 20:06:06-04

DENVER – With every nail pounded in the frame, Jamiah Rawls gets closer to her future.

“It’s been a journey,” she said. “[I feel] like a kid on Christmas, just waiting for Christmas day to get here.”

Rawls has lived on the streets for several years. The tiny house she was helping to build Tuesday afternoon will soon be where she calls home.

She and others will be able to move in to the village of 11 8-foot-by-12-foot shelters in Denver’s River North Neighborhood next week.

The self-governing village is located at 3733 Walnut Street, adjacent to Walnut Liquors and Black Shirt Brewing Company. The 38th and Blake RTD station is less than a block away.

At $7,000 per home, each unit will have electricity and heat. The village will also include a community gathering space with communal restrooms and showers.

The plan to build Denver’s first tiny home community has been fraught with problems from the beginning, but the project finally got the green light in April after the city approved a zoning permit.

It’s a project homeless advocates like Terese Howard say is long overdue. But with only a six-month permit, Howard hopes to expand to new locations in the future.

“We’re really excited about spreading this around the whole city, not just one token village,” said Howard with Denver Homeless Outloud.

The tiny homes can be placed on flatbed trailers and moved every six months to other areas the villages can get approved.

The small number of tiny homes won’t put much of a dent in Denver’s homelessness problem, but organizers say Beloved Community Village will provide another option for those who aren’t well-suited to traditional shelters, such as couples, people with pets and those in the LGBTQ community.

The The Colorado Village Collaborative has a thorough vetting process for residents and members will have to adhere to guidelines set forth by the village’s residents.

Opponents claim it will be an eyesore and could attract crime, but supporters defend the village, saying it's worked in other states like Oregon and Texas.