Murray group raising money to build tiny home community for the homeless

The Murray Calloway County Homeless Coalition hosted a fundraiser Friday night.

MURRAY, KY  — For those without homes this holiday season, there’s hope that they can have a place of their own.

The Murray Calloway County Homeless Coalition is raising money to build a community of tiny homes for the homeless and people living in inadequate housing.

The nonprofit hosted a fundraiser Friday night at Miller Courthouse Annex in Murray. More than 100 nativity sets from around the world were on display for the public to see, with all admission proceeds benefiting the coalition.

The group estimates the initial cost of building a community of tiny homes will be $225,000.

One of the nativity sets at the fundraiser

Each home will have a living area, a kitchenette (which includes a microwave, dorm-sized refrigerator and sink), a half bath, plus sleeping spaces depending on the size of the family, the coalition said. There will also be a common building that will have showers, laundry machines, a full kitchen and a meeting space. The community will be called OpporUNITY Place.

Jennifer Riley, president of the Murray Calloway County Homeless Coalition, sad a tiny home community has several benefits over a homeless shelter.

“When you go to a shelter, men have to go one direction, women have to go another. So, if they’re families, then they are separated in this type of situation,” said Riley. “They won’t be separated (in the tiny home community). Some people, their pets are their family, and those aren’t allowed in shelters. So we’ll be able to allow pets.”

Frank Addison’s tiny home

Gulf War veteran Charlie Hildebrand, who is a board member of the coalition, lives in a tiny home himself. He also built a tiny home for a homeless veteran, Frank Addison, a year ago.

“It gave me my freedom. It gave a place to live that nobody can take away from me,” said Addison.

Addison became homeless after a fire burned down his home. So, he resorted to living in a broken camper. He said at the time he felt “lost, distressed, like I wasn’t worth anything.”

Hildebrand plans to work with architectural design students at Murray State University on the project. He said the goal of the coalition is to not only build a community, but to help the residents lead fulfilling lives.

“We want to get them off the streets. We want to give them a leg up. And we want to get them back into society as we see society, so they have a job. They have a place to live. They’re restored to some self-respect,” said Hildebrand. “There’s no doubt that they’ll be people celebrating Christmas in a tiny house in this community. That’s going to happen.”

The coalition said an interview committee will select who will live in the community. Single adults, married adults and families are eligible, but sex offenders are not. Residents will be required to log a certain number of hours each week to maintain the community. They must also complete at least two life-skills classes each year.

Rent will be determined on a case-by case basis, the coalition said, depending on the resident’s financial situation.

Anyone who  missed the coalition’s Friday night fundraiser can attend it again on Saturday, Dec. 1, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Miller Courthouse Annex at 201 S. 4th St. in Murray. Admission is $5 per person, with a $20 family limit.

Donations can also be mailed to Roy Riley, MCCHC treasurer, at 1338 Minnow Rd., Murray, KY 42071.

For more information, email mcchomelesscoalition@gmail.com, call 270-227-7739, or visit the group’s Facebook page.

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