This story is a guest post by Janet Caldwell
Well, have I got a story for you -Rev. Jeff Obafemi Carr, once homeless himself, is living in Nashville’s FIRST micro model home until enough money is raised to build a village of micro-homes for the homeless.
Through the efforts Infinity Fellowship where he is the Lead Minister, Jeff is living in a 60 square foot micro-home and will continue to live there until enough funds are raised to build a “micro-village” for homeless to live in for FREE. This is a crowd-funded GoFundMe page initiative that has raised more than half of the $50,000 needed so far. Jeff has been living there for 26 days now while his wife and five children continue to live in their residence.
Please see media release below, as well as photos attached for more information.
Reverend Living in Micro House to Raise Money for Homeless
MINISTER ATTACKS HOMELESSNESS PROBLEM – SEEKS TO BUILD
ENTIRE VILLAGE OF MICRO-HOMES
Rev. jeff obafemi carr tackles Affordable Housing in Nashville’s Inner-City
Nashville, Tennessee (July 2015) – For more than three weeks now, the Rev. jeff obafemi carr has been living in a 60 square foot micro-home in an innovative effort to raise $50,000 dollars to build an entire village of them for homeless citizens seeking affordable housing. Modeled after the popular units seen on travel/lifestyle shows like Tiny House Nation and Tiny House Builders, the entire home is built on a 6×10 trailer. The micro-homes will be donated free of charge to those who need reliable shelter.
“There are a lot of people building shelters around the country, but honestly, some of them don’t belong in a shanty town in a downtrodden country. I wanted to build an actual home for people that could preserve their sense of dignity. I don’t want to build something that I wouldn’t live in myself, so I’ll be doing just that,” said carr, the Founding Minister of Infinity Fellowship. “People see micro-homes as playthings for the wealthy who want to lower their carbon footprint or carry a small home around on cross country trips. I looked at the concept with a friend of mine, Dwayne Jones, and said, ‘why can’t we build these units for people who are currently sleeping on the ground?’ After that the idea just caught fire. My congregation got with it instantly and we were off to the races.”
In an effort to raise awareness and funds, carr set up a GoFundMe page (www.gofundme.com/homelessvillage) and then moved into the model micro-home, which is parked in the middle of Inner-City Nashville. The home was built by his college buddy, engineer and construction company owner Dwayne A. Jones of Memphis, TN. Infinity members drop off food and water, and he showers at a nearby gym when the baby-wipe baths don’t suffice.
Although the unit is small, it is comfortable, with insulated drywall, a standard sized doorway, a shuttered window, vaulted ceiling and even an air conditioning unit. The unit is wired for electricity and is sturdy enough to withstand volatile weather and even survived what may actually be the first ever micro-home invasion attempt, which occurred the first week carr took up residence in the micro-home.
“I have no shame in saying, ‘I’ve been there,’” says carr, an award-winning filmmaker, writer, and unconventional spiritual leader, who founded Infinity Fellowship last October. “Right after my wife and I got married, the economy tanked, and artists are the first to suffer when that happens. My house went into foreclosure and I ended up staying in my mother-in-law’s attic until I could get back on my feet. I wasn’t living in a box under a bridge, but I still had no place I could call my own. That took a toll on my psyche as a man, as a provider. People see homelessness as a disease, as if it couldn’t happen to them. I know, personally, that it can, and that’s why we’re going to do our part to chip away at it, one micro-home at a time.”
Rev. carr plans to dwell in the micro-home until the fundraising goal is reached. So far, more than $17,000 dollars have been raised by more than 200 donors from around the country. The husband and father of five children not only sleeps in the micro-home, he holds his meetings there, and spends much of the day offering tours, fielding the interest of potential residents and donors and providing counseling and guidance to those who come to visit. Many are shocked that he is African-American.
“’Black folks build these?’ is the most repeated question I’ve heard over the last 16 days,” says carr. “I just say, ‘Well, they do now.’”
Infinity Fellowship is an interfaith congregation committed to social action and justice. The group envisions an entire village of tiny homes (6-8 units) that will be that will be built on repurposed auto trailers and distributed to landowners who are willing to provide shelter for homeless citizens in transition. Similar homes have been built across the country in cities like Madison, WI, Seattle, WA, and even Los Angeles in an effort to combat homelessness.
The model unit is parked at 1003 Monroe Street in the rapidly gentrifying inner-city neighborhood of historic Buena Vista.
HOMELESSNESS IN NASHVILLE
On any given night in Nashville, it is estimated that there are as many as 2,000 – 4,000 homeless individuals – people without a permanent residence living in shelters, streets, hotels, cars, with friends, and family members. Homelessness occurs when individuals/families cannot find housing that fits their budget.
HOMELESSNESS IN AMERICA According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, In January 2014, there were 578,424 peopleexperiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States. Of that number, 216,197 are people in families, and 362,163 are individuals. About 15 percent of the homeless population – 84,291—are considered chronically homeless individuals, and About 9 percent of homeless people—49,933—are veterans.
About Infinity Fellowship:
Infinity is a spiritual community that bridges all faiths to celebrate common principles in diverse faith traditions, focusing that commonality on issues of personal growth/development, community, and social justice. Infinity’s Sunday Gathering includes music, meditation, yoga, and critical conversation on community improvement. More information is available at www.myIF.org.
Source: Give the Homeless Real (Micro)Homes by Jeff Obafemi Carr – GoFundMe
Learn more: http://www.gofundme.com/homelessvillage
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It’s wonderful that one of the spin-offs of the Tiny House Movement is that people are using it to help other people in need. There is nothing better than having your own space to go to when the day or the weather gets rough. This is especially true for homeless people. I salute anyone who is providing shelter to the homeless and proving that it really IS a good thing to be thy brothers and sisters keeper! 🙂
This article says a lot. Not only to the plight of homelessness, but to the plight of self worth. We must realize homelessness has many facets. I have me too many people who declare homelessness as a desired lifestyle. “If they would simply get a job.”
I applaud those who take the problem on directly. Way too many communities simply want the problem to move along, go somewhere else. Every community can make place for homes like this one.
This is so well said. Thank you for saying so too. Cities need to provide space and infrastructure to help not just push these unfortunates away.
Thank you for doing something for homeless people. I hope it will catch on all across the country.
Fantastic story!!!!!! Hope his project will be a great success!
I am a Realtor north of Atlanta. I would love nothing more than to be involved in a project like this. I sell land and houses so this would be right up my alley.