NewsLocal News


Mendenhall unveils tiny home program to help Salt Lake City's homeless

Posted at 1:07 PM, Apr 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-29 23:27:01-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced plans Thursday to build a tiny home village to help alleviate the city's homelessness problem.

The city will partner with The Other Side Academy to create a pilot village to focus on homeless residents.

Mendenhall's office says it hopes to open the village to residents by this winter, although a location for the community has yet to be announced.

“Every time you get somewhere, they’re moving you around,” said John Donald.

New Orleans native John Donald experienced homelessness since Hurricane Katrina.

“Yes, I’d like to have my own spot. Living here is a pain in the [expletive],” said Donald.

He thinks living in a tent camp off 600 South is better than one of the recently-built resource centers in Salt Lake County. This winter, he may have another option: a tiny home.

“This is a huge step forward in this project. We’re moving at light-speed here, given the scope and urgency of the challenge, and I think that’s a testament to the commitment of the City and our partners to confront the reality of this issue,” said Mendenhall.

Tiny Home Garden

Renderings of the proposed village shows a community that includes homes, gardens and retail locations.

Tiny Home Village

Mayor Mendenhall announced a partnership with The Other Side Academy to create the state’s first tiny home village for people who are chronically homeless.

City leaders plan to build 400 to 500 permanent tiny homes in a massive community.

Tiny Home retail

However, it’s unclear where it will be located, how much it will cost, and who will pay for it.

“As we get close to determining where the village will be, the city will have a better sense of the cost,” said Mayor Mendenhall.

A village in Austin, Texas is similar — yet smaller — to the proposed Salt Lake City project. It’s called Community First! Village and holds 130 tiny homes and 100 RVs on 51 acres.

Seattle, WA has fewer than 300 tiny homes in eight separate villages used as temporary housing for people experiencing homelessness. The city reports paying roughly $4 million in startup costs and $6.4 million per year in operating costs that includes case management.

"This isn’t just about finding a place to park people who don’t have a place to live, it’s about creating a new community,” said The Other Side Academy chair and founder Joseph Grenny.

Mendenhall wants the village operational by November. An ambitious timeline John Donald hopes he can take advantage of.

“I would love to take one to get me out of the tent to get me off the streets,” said Donald.
"Mayor Mendenhall's tiny home initiative is an important option for individuals experiencing homelessness to connect with a community and much needed services. It's also an investment in deeply affordable housing development, a key component in making homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring," said Laurie Hopkins, Executive Director of Shelter the Homeless.