Tiny house takes off

Even building a tiny house is a big job. That's what Blood Ties Four Directions found out when they started their supported housing project.

Even building a tiny house is a big job.

That’s what Blood Ties Four Directions found out when they started their supported housing project.

On Monday the non-profit group, which focuses on helping Yukoners living with HIV, AIDS and Hepatitis C, was back before city council asking for help.

Its tiny house, with just 204 square feet, packs in a kitchen, bathroom, sleeping area, living room and even a porch. It’s meant to provide temporary digs to Blood Ties clients.

The group has found a new location for the home, after initial plans fell through.

Now it just needs the city to help hook the small house up to municipal water and sewer services. That will cost about $12,000.

City administration has recommended that the council support the project, so it looks like Blood Ties will get the help it needs when the request comes up for a vote in the next week.

That’s good news to Heather Ashthorn, the housing navigator for Blood Ties. Housing is “one of the biggest challenges for our clients,” she said.

Blood Ties has about 350 clients, many of whom struggle to find stable housing, said Ashthorn.

“It’s fair to say that I have a core group of 30 to 40 clients who are always without housing,” she said. “Though I don’t know how many who are frequent travellers down that path.

“Probably over the course of two to three years, most of our membership will experience homelessness at some point.”

For someone who is being treated for HIV or Hepatitis C, a lack of stable housing is especially challenging.

“It’s a long and gruesome treatment, and if you’re living on the streets there’s no chance you’ll even be accepted into the treatment program,” said Ashthorn.

The house is not intended to be a long-term solution.

“Whoever is there will work closely with the housing navigator at Blood Ties who will help them get other support so we can move them into something permanent, said Ashthorn. “So we don’t just dump them back on the street, basically.”

Building the house will cost about $35,000, although most of the materials and labour have been donated, said Ashthorn.

“We wanted to demonstrate that the solutions are actually right here in the community,” she said. “So yes, you could drag a shelter onto a piece of property and hook it up and call it good, but that was not what we were aiming to do.

“Building a house gives the business community an opportunity to be involved – it gives us a really good quality product in the end that we know will not fall apart in 20 years.”

Ashthorn first appeared before council in January. At that time Blood Ties had yet to break ground on the project.

Its plans hit a snag when the property owner who had agreed to let the organization use their backyard for the project backed out.

“Those landlords were given significantly different information than we were about what the implications would be,” said Ashthorn.

Since then, Blood Ties has secured a location on the corner of 4th Avenue and Black Street, and is well on it’s way to completing the project. “We just put the roof on,” said Ashthorn.

The project is called the Steve Cardiff House, in honour of the longtime NDP MLA who died in a car accident last summer.

“Steve Cardiff worked very closely with Blood Ties, with our board, and was very supportive of supportive housing initiatives,” said Ashthorn.

Contact Josh Kerr at joshk@yukon-news.com

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