TOPEKA (KSNT) – Downsizing is a popular trend for some homeowners, but some homeless advocates say it could be a solution to a growing problem in Topeka.
The area east of the Topeka Rescue Mission could be the future spot of a tiny home village. The new community is an idea to help address chronic homelessness.
“We want to offer another option than the streets,” said Barry Feaker, executive director at the Topeka Rescue Mission.
The homes would help people that have been homeless for more than a year, typically living outside. Feaker presented the idea to the Topeka City Council earlier this week. He said 100 64-square-feet structures that could house up to 200 people could fit in the area. The homes would provide heat and air conditioning, and have communal areas for eating and showering.
The living arrangements would be temporary, but Feaker said it’s a good way to reach people and get them the help and services they need.
“I don’t think people are saying this is okay to do nothing, or do it the way we’ve always done it,” Feaker said about homelessness in Topeka. “If the rescue mission is being vulnerable and transparent enough to say we’re not the only answer, that says something, and we’re saying we’re not the only answer.”
Estimates place the cost at more than $5 million to build the tiny home community, and another $1 million+ to operate it each year. Donations, city funding or federal coronavirus relief could help pay for the project if it was approved.
There’s no timeline for the proposal, but Feaker said he plans to meet with city leaders to convince them that now is not the time to wait.