Milwaukee advances tiny house plan for foster care teenagers

Posted at 9:54 AM, Sep 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-13 14:10:14-04

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Milwaukee city planners are pushing forward with an idea to use tiny homes to help teens aging out of foster care.

Up to 36 tiny homes would be built to give housing to young people ages 18 to 25, especially those who are homeless or at risk of being homeless, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported .

The tiny homes would be between 300 to 350 square feet and would include a bathroom and kitchen. The area would also have a community garden and bike racks.

The homes would be built through a partnership with developer Gorman & Co., nonprofit Pathfinders Milwaukee Inc. and the Milwaukee County Housing Division.

Evidence suggests that those without adequate housing have a more difficult time finding and keeping a job, said Tim Baack, the president and CEO of Pathfinders.

"So housing really needs to come first," Baack said.

He said if young people are helped early enough, they don't have to rely on help for permanent housing long term.

The proposed location is close to the nonprofit's main office. Planners expect about a dozen tiny houses to be built each year.

On Monday the City Plan Commission unanimously approved land rezoning for the project. The commission must approve a detailed development plan for the project to move forward.

The county launched the Housing First initiative two years ago and has decreased homelessness in the county by 40 percent, said County Executive Chris Abele.

"We've made such a great deal of progress on chronic homelessness that we can now begin to have a forward-thinking strategy on preventing homelessness, particularly with vulnerable young people," Abele said.

The county has committed $100,000 to the tiny house development and will use federal and local funds for rent subsidies, said James Mathy, housing administrator for the county Housing Division.