Organizations turn to tiny homes to help combat youth homelessness

Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 6:05 PM EDT
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MONMONTH, Maine (WABI) - A community of Maine builders came together for a cause.

“You never really think about unhoused teenagers,” Chase Morrill with Maine Cabin Masters said.

They’re building a tiny home community to help combat homelessness among youth in Franklin County, starting with this first home.

It’s a project founded by Bonita Thompkins.

“Recently, there was a report of 46 homeless youth in one school district in Franklin County, and I have got to imagine that the actual number is probably double,” Thompkins said.

Thompkins says she learned of youth homelessness firsthand while teaching at a high school.

“I noticed that there were a lot of kids that were lacking a home, a safe and supportive home,” Thompkins, founder of center for entrepreneurial studies said.

Each (8 ½ foot by 20) home will house one teenager at a time.

“It’s going to be self-sufficient; it will have a bathroom kitchen area, sleeping area, but it’s just somewhere that anybody can, you know, they will feel like it is their space, their own home,” Morrill said.

Understanding they are still teenagers, Thompkins says there will be adult supervision.

“The tiny home itself is going to be put on a foster home site, and we are going to be reaching out to our community to make sure that we vet a family to help oversee this young individual,” Thompkins said.

They’re hoping to complete the first home, which would normally cost $60,000, within a few weeks. Thompkins says she’s grateful for all who have supported the cause.

“Thank God that all these businesses have stepped up to come and join us,” Thompkins said.

“OP Box fabricated the shell, Ware-Butler is donating a ton of material, Irvine Building Products is donating material, and the really cool thing is I’d say is 90% of this is Maine manufactured or built right here in Maine,” Morrill said.

Maine Cabin Masters will finish up the project.

Recognizing that one tiny home will not solve the problem of homelessness, Thompkins says that’s why she sees it as a business and growth opportunity.

“We are also trying to figure out how we can possibly develop a model similar to College of the Ozarks, where kids are receiving their college education in exchange for work, and so, they are getting a stipend for work as well as a job, and housing,” she said.

“No kid should have to be struggling with where they are living when they are in school,” Morrill said.