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Delaware Church and Nonprofit Collaborate to Build Village of Tiny Houses for Homeless Population

A nonprofit group in Delaware, in collaboration with Victory Church of Dover, is planning to build a village of 15 tiny homes to house the local homeless population.

Though local residents have raised concerns about the project, the church has donated its property in the 2700 block of Forrest Ave. as a site for the new homes. Nonprofit organization Port Hope has expressed confidence that the village will come to fruition despite the apparent hurdles set by the church’s neighbors.

“In the end, this is happening,” said the founder of Port Hope, Sue Harris. “For the last 10 years or so, this has been a big mission of mine.”

Harris’s vision is that people will occupy the homes, paying rent below market price (approximately $200 to $300 per month). She was inspired by the new wave of tiny home communities existing in Newfield, NY; Olympia, WA; and Portland, OR. Harris and her partner, Cathi Kopera, have created designs that include a standing-room-only bathroom, workable kitchen, and a small sleeping space.

Pastor Aaron Appling of Victory Church heard about Port Hope’s tiny village project through Kopera and took it as an opportunity to expand the church’s efforts to alleviate the chronic homelessness problem in Dover. Church members already have a daily practice of bringing water to homeless people residing on the city’s streets.

Harris, Kopera, Appling, and advocates of the endeavor realize that they will likely run up against neighborhood opposition as they propose shelters and homes where those kinds of facilities did not exist before. In fact, neighbors of Victory Church have already come forward to protest the plan.

“This is not the place for this project,” argued Ray Henriques, a local resident. “The only people with any positive response are those that won’t have it in their backyard.”

Nonetheless, Appling is proceeding with the endeavor. He has already met with Kent County officials to go over zoning variances and has scheduled meetings with state legislators. Meanwhile, his parishioners have begun to build a model tiny home in the church’s parking lot to demonstrate what type of housing they hope to put on the property.

Harris said that the materials for each home will cost about $12,000. According to Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost Vs Value Report, the average wood window replacement comes in at around $12,229. In other words, thanks to the church’s land donation and volunteer labor from church members, the project costs will remain relatively low, lower than the cost of the average window replacement. Harris said that because of this, they will not need to depend on government grants or aid to make this dream a reality.


Photo credit: By Tammy (Weekend with Dee) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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