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Man Builds Micro Homes for Homeless People Living in Tents

This is the inspiring story of how a man, Reverend Jeff Obafemi Carr, is leading a small group of people who are building a community of micro homes called Infinity Village for homeless people in their neighborhood who were formerly living in tents.

For days, the group worked in a remote green space just off of Rosa Parks Boulevard, erecting tiny houses. On Friday morning they traveled by trailer down Broadway and by lunchtime a village of small, stand-alone structures assumed permanent residence at Green Street Church of Christ ready to shelter Nashville’s homeless.

Man Builds Micro Homes for Homeless People Living in Tents

Tennessee Man Builds Micro Homes for Homeless 02

Images © Shelley Mays/The Tennessean

Tennessee Man Builds Micro Homes for Homeless 03 From Tents to Micro Homes

Images © Shelley Mays/The Tennessean

Building Micro Homes for Homeless in Tennessee 01 Building Micro Homes for Homeless in Tennessee 02 Building Tiny Houses for Homeless 1

Video: Homeless Man Jumps for Joy over new Tiny House

Video from WKRN-TV News Nashville

Donate: https://www.gofundme.com/homelessvillage


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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 30 comments… add one }
  • November 10, 2015, 9:27 pm

    Dear Reverend Jeff Obafemi Carr,

    I think what you are doing for the homeless community is a wonderful jesture!! They just must love their new micro homes. These homes are adorable!! It is so nice of you to furnish it for them!! When the time comes God will be giving you lots of crowns and he will have a special place in heaven for you. God Bless you and the other gentleman that has been helping you!! Sincerely, Carol Perry

  • Mike
    November 11, 2015, 8:28 am

    I’m hoping articles like this won’t stigmatize the tiny house movement. We all know a low-volt critic or two who would correlate these shelters with Tiny Homes.

    Equally dangerous are those who build really cheap, poorly conceived and implemented units for retail sale. How do we differentiate the well done, self-built and attractive tiny homes from these examples that dilute the concept? Maybe more editorial oversight? Thoughts?

  • gale
    November 11, 2015, 9:32 am

    What plans does he have to try helping the able bodied back into a regular life and job? This is a fantastic waystation and a wonderful help for so many drowning in life but it cannot become a lifestyle as many of the government programs. Hopefully others living in that area can lend a hand to help with retraining job skills and other things. Gib bkess this man for taking the first step. I pray others will step up as well.

    • Kristina H Nadreau
      November 11, 2015, 11:15 am

      You are clearly not informed about the make-up of the homeless population. The vast majority of the homeless are mentally ill. They will not benefit from “job skills”, which they would find difficult to learn and because they will never be hired to do anything. Many of the homeless men are self medicating with illicit drugs, and are war veterans suffering from PTSD and alcoholism. finally, numerically, the largest group of homeless are children! Do you understand that people earning a minimum wage, working 19 hours a week so their employer does not have to pay benefits, do not have enough income to rent living quarters? These closets without utilities are not an answer to homelessness. and neither is “job training”.

      • Spike
        November 11, 2015, 11:42 am

        as a veteran on Veterans day I’m very offended by the constant drone of the homeless are veterans suffering from PTSD. A few probably are but the vast majority of homeless that I’ve had contact with have never served in our military. Some of those homeless that claim veteran status were actually less than honorably discharged. Please stop disrespecting veterans. BTW, do you have a constructive alternative to these shelters?

    • Jane
      November 11, 2015, 12:00 pm

      Really. What is it to you if this becomes a “lifestyle?” All the “retraining” in the world doesn’t matter when there are no jobs. And as the next writer said, you obviously know nothing about the homeless population.

      How about YOU go out in your community and start a retraining program yourself, instead of thinking that someone doing more than you ever have thought about, is not doing enough?

      • gale
        November 11, 2015, 3:26 pm

        That’s why I clearly stated able bodied. I realize there are many unable to work who need homes and this is great but many have lost jobs and are now homeless. This is the population to whom I speak…those who need a leg up to get back on their feet. And BTW I do help others as much as I can too.

        • Jane
          November 11, 2015, 4:04 pm

          I agree there are those who would dearly love new jobs, and I apologize for my tone.

      • gale
        November 11, 2015, 3:44 pm

        Just a few things I DO know about and where I help. I am retirement age and still working. I have paid for motel rooms out of my pocket so someone had a place to sleep. I have bought numerous meals. I have sat with people drowning in debt working out a budget so they won’t end uo homeless. Don’t talk about me…you dont know me.

      • Payton
        November 11, 2015, 7:52 pm

        I messed up on this post Jane, I agree with you all the way and everything you said. I hit the wrong thing when I went to reply to this post. I am so sorry I hit the report button. if you have a problem, I will try to fix it with the people that write this news letter.

  • Mark
    November 11, 2015, 11:21 am

    A very good thing happened there .. That’s a great step forward for those in a transitional stage of their lives .. We all need to look after those in need of help wherever we are ..

  • Tommy
    November 11, 2015, 11:22 am

    Mike… I’m sure people will be able to tell the difference between quality and quantity these are just a quick help for people were living in tents to get out of the weather and I have some sort of dignity. Sounds like you’re doing nothing but classifying. Kristina… Give us all the answer since you know this not the solution.

    • Mike
      November 14, 2015, 11:11 am

      @Tommy. I’m classifying true enough, and you’ll note I suggest the question whether these shelters are appropriate examples of sustainable living on a blog about tiny houses. If this were relaxshaks or a blog about alternative shelters for the intractably homeless I’d be an advocate. The tiny HOUSE movement is facing a number of challenges as to their credibility in the urban landscape, permitting, zoning, construction standards, etc. In that regard, CLASSIFYING is pretty much a necessity if the movement is going to get traction. So then, do we embrace the equivalent of a hard-sided tent on wheels as a credible tiny house or temporary housing for the homeless? Do they confer ownership to the homeless person? Being so compact, how many of them should be allowed per acre? How do you support them with sanitary and cooking facilities?

      There’s a number of questions that should be addressed and we should address how those questions affect the tiny house community. Do they fit our model or are they something else?

  • kristina nadreau
    November 11, 2015, 11:22 am

    I dislike this project. The publics complaint about homeless people will usually come down to bathrooms, urinating and defecating “in public”.

    These too small shacks with no sewer or water hook ups is not the answer to anything. Storage only. thieves can kick in the doors to steal the window a/c. and strip the copper wire from the electrical service.

    I do not see this as an improvement over a tent. If there was a staffed central building with a rudimentary kitchen and shower and toilet, then these glorified storage sheds might alleviate some of the difficulties of homeless people.

    • Doris
      November 12, 2015, 12:20 pm

      “Shacks?” Ms.Nadreau, have you ever lived in a tent, in your car, or behind a dumpster under cardboard when its 18 or 115 degrees? If you weren’t so incredibly negative, I would invite you to spend a week with two dozen formerly homeless veterans who now live in a TH community thanks largely to my sister-in-law. Like the reverend, she saw a problem and did something about it. Unlike the reverend, she swears she will never post photos of her very successful (and for those who fret so much, very aesthetic) community on here because of comments like yours.
      Her “guys” had drug and mental problems, and no means to get to a VA for help. Many had given up. The females had been raped repeatedly while living on the street. Since having stable “shacks,” as you choose to call their homes, some have stabilized enough to rent their own small homes in town, and returned to help build more THs. They started their own garden area, and they support each other.
      Sis has a community bathroom/washer/dryer house, and she did all of this with her own money and donations of building supplies. No one gave this reverend a chance to say if he had PortaPottis or a community bath area. You just assumed it was all bad and nasty. That attitude hurts the TH community as much as the idiots who whine when they see a 160 sq. ft. TH without a dishwasher or chandelier.

      • Kristina H Nadreau
        November 12, 2015, 3:42 pm

        I worked in a homeless shelter and I knew my clients well and their individual problems that led to being homeless. We liked and respected each other. I do have front line experience, not theories, which influences my opinions. I have seen the public’s response to the homeless. I have seen the political responses to the homeless. It is a difficult, complex issue with no one correct answer. I am realistic, not negative. Your comments about me are not appropriate.

        • CharlotteMo
          November 13, 2015, 12:26 am

          Years ago, I ran short on funds on a cross-country trip and had to sleep in my car to get home, which kept breaking down. I was scared to death at night, nearly froze, cramped and miserable. I would have been thrilled to have one of those heated “shacks” with a lock on the door for a few nights. I cannot imagine being homeless, and think it is crazy for someone to say no solution is better than this solution.

        • Sally
          November 14, 2015, 2:55 pm

          The article plainly states “a village of small, stand-alone structures assumed permanent residence at Green Street Church of Christ ready to shelter Nashville’s homeless.” The church is the “staffed, central building” Ms. Nadreau apparently overlooked.
          These folks are not in yet another park without supervision, bath facilities or food. They have accountability, and I would bet they are carefully screened to insure the success of the project.
          I admire this man for attempting to solve a small local problem, instead of walking away because its part of a much larger issue.
          Mike, I appreciate your concerns because I face them constantly with one of my own projects in a county with outdated petty bureaucracy. If they can’t make it fit in one of their little categories, they make a personal judgment based on their own likes or dislikes.
          This particular project is easily classified because it falls under legalities and exemptions for church projects. I don’t see how it could negatively impact permitting for individuals with fully outfitted THs on land or lots. Any paralegal or competent owner could argue the difference at a board meeting.

  • Deadrock
    November 11, 2015, 11:38 am

    I believe that this Reverend is really trying to do God’s work as he sees it, and he deserves praise for that. If I were homeless, I’m pretty certain I’d see a wooden structure that can keep the cold (and heat) out, and has a door that can be locked, as a real improvement over a tent.

    Kristina N. makes some valid points, however. There does need to be a better infrastructure in place to take care of the hygiene needs these little buildings don’t address. And while I’m impressed by the Reverend’s willingness to stick it out, boots on the ground, until he raised the money he needed to build these shelters, I’m concerned that it apparently took $50,000 just to build 6 of them. That works out to about $8,333 each, and that seems a little pricy to me. 45 days of roughing it, and tireless fundraising, to get just $50,000, and only 6 people got out of a tent and into a shed.

    The good intentions are unquestionable. Now I think a little more thought needs to be put into this.

  • Betty
    November 11, 2015, 11:39 am

    Great idea. Hope this is only a way station until they become productive and get back on their feet.

  • Rivke
    November 11, 2015, 11:52 am

    As someone who called a license plate her home address for a few years, and actually talks to folks living on the street, yes, a glorified shed as its being so judgementally called, is a step up.
    Why? Hailstorms, rain, rips, that rock that always winds up on your spine at night, and many more.
    Maybe it’s knowing someone cares, that they see human dignity in these people. Maybe that’s what starts a change. Buys the time and space to get whatever help will get them on a more self sufficient road.

    In my mind, tiny living is about responsible use of materials, money and time.
    Glad to know my personal worth is still measured by the cost of my living quarters by many people.

  • Carole
    November 11, 2015, 7:50 pm

    It’s nice they have a little place to stay. I hope there is.some kind of structure in place for keeping it nice. I’ve worked w the lost and homeless. They don’t always keep things nice. Sure wish we could find a place to park all of our little trailer as easily as they did.

  • Rose
    November 11, 2015, 11:04 pm

    Wow. I can’t believe the comments. A guy is trying to find a solution to a problem. Be grateful if you have never suffered or have gone through hardships. This is a beginning. This would be great for the families that lost everything to a massive fire that happened recently in Middletown, CA.

  • Cynthia
    November 12, 2015, 8:31 am

    Netflix has a documentary on the homeless in Nashville, I believe “tent city.” Perhaps people should watch it. Every city has these disenfranchised people who have few options, we just don’t see them. These tiny houses, even if they are more a closet, would provide a shelter from the worse of the elements and maybe a safer place. It has to be better than a tent or cardboard. God bless these folks who are trying to take care of their brothers and sisters.

  • Cindy Ling
    November 12, 2015, 5:23 pm

    I applaud the pastor in assisting people in need with a th.Its a step up in rebuilding their lives and wishing them the best.

  • sc
    November 13, 2015, 4:34 pm

    He gets a lot of credit for building the homes, but I must say he could have gotten better value than these places. Here is an example of what could be built
    and the cost at 7500 x 6 =45k would be under budget. Not saying this particular builder, but it shows how much you can get in a small space for the price.

    • Varenikje
      November 19, 2015, 11:03 pm

      Wow, they are asking $7500 for each of those and they have a shower and toilet and bed and kitchen sink and refrigerator and microwave and one burner stove! I’d say that is a great deal and somebody should talk to the pastor!

      • Varenikje
        November 19, 2015, 11:07 pm

        Oh, and I forgot, it also has a washer/dryer. The appliances couldn’t be included in the cost, could it?

      • Doris
        November 20, 2015, 12:29 pm

        They are not selling them. Read the article again.

        • Varenikje
          November 21, 2015, 12:44 pm

          The date of the video is 12/29/14 but it says, “At time of posting this house is available complete as seen for $7500.” I don’t see where you get the idea that “They are not selling them.”

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