Wichita nonprofit looks to open tiny home village for homeless

Local

A Wichita nonprofit wants to open a tiny home community for the county’s homeless population.

“This would be giving them more of a chance to become productive members of society that they know they can be,” said Let’s Rock & Roll & Change the World Founder Bob Johnson.

Let’s Rock & Roll & Change the World is in a nonprofit dedicated to finding solutions to homelessness, poverty, and hunger.

“That’s the issue with most of the people on the streets right now. They’re broken and it’s our intent to help make them better,” Johnson explained.

According to the 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment there were 2,748 unduplicated homeless individuals in Sedgwick County.

“A lot of these individuals just need a hand up, not a hand out. They need a fighting chance. They have been crushed and stepped on by the society of which they have lived for so long. They just need a little bit of hope. They need that opportunity,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s nonprofit is looking to buy and renovate the land owned by Bergmann Corn Maze south of Haysville. 

“Initially what we are looking at right now is to take 25 acres, turn it into a tiny home community, put 150 tiny homes,” he said.

In addition to the tiny homes, Johnson and his team would offer medical, dental and mental health services within the community. They would also require the people living on site, who will be vetted, to put in work in the form of sweat equity.

“We want to get the best of all of these programs together and give these individuals a chance to put some work into their home, to have that pride of ownership, restoring with dignity where dignity is lost,” Johnson said. 

The nonprofit has reached out to the City of Haysville regarding the tiny home village.

The city does have a tiny home ordinance which was recently established. The ordinance establishes a category for tiny homes, labeled ‘TH’, within the Zoning Code.  It does not designate or approve any specific location within Haysville city limits as an area for tiny homes. 

However, during a city council meeting the mayor of Haysville didn’t rule out the idea of a tiny home village near the city.

“We are a city that welcomes everyone. We’re truly not a city that excludes people out of coming to town for whatever their financial condition may be,” said Haysville Mayor Bruce Armstrong during the June 11 council meeting.

KSN talked to multiple Haysville residents on Tuesday about the idea of the tiny home village. Two people told KSN they were against it citing worries about crime and decreased property values. However, the majority of residents said they are on board with the idea. 

“You see people out there sleeping everyday out in the heat, out in the cold. It’s nice to see something done,” said Jeremy Mitchell.

“I don’t see what harm it would do to get them off the street,” said Tina Durham.

“I think it’s great idea. They have got to have a place to live and i’d rather have them live in some kind of a housing deal than living out on the streets, sleeping under a bridge or something like that. If we can help somebody out who can’t help themselves, I think it’s great,” said Bob Friesen.

Johnson said the tiny home village is in the very beginning and fundrasing stages. If the nonprofit gets the land south of Haysville, the village would still need to be approved by Sedgwick County. 

The group would need approval from the City of Haysville if it wants to use some of its services like water and sewer.

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