Iowa Group Working to Curb Homelessness with Tiny Homes Program

Jan 5, 2018

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s report on homelessness shows that for the first time in seven years, the number of Americans experiencing homelessness increased by about seven-tenths of a percent.

Iowa ranks among the states with the lowest rates of homelessness. Homelessness decreased by 10 percent last year in the state compared to 2016. That means 1,500 people and 1,256 families were homeless in Iowa.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer explores what it’s like to be homeless in Iowa, particularly during this cold snap.

"A lot of my friends have seizures and stuff, so it's nice to be able to keep an eye on them and not have to worry—not worry that they're out freezing, so that allows me to sleep," says Marcy of Iowa City, who is staying at a temporary emergency winter shelter in Iowa City. "It's comfortable."

Joining today’s discussion: Claire Czerwionka, a family advocate with the Iowa City Community School District, and Joe Stevens, the co-founder and CEO of Joppa, an organization with plans to create a tiny-home village in central Iowa to provide transitional housing for people dedicated to getting off the streets.

Stevens says he’s been searching for a spot to place 50 of the 96-square-foot houses.

"We’ve had overwhelming support from our corporations and churches and our mayor. I believe our city manager is supportive; we’ve got a lot of momentum.”

He says a village of tiny homes would provide temporary shelter of between six and twenty-four months. He’s also hoping to construct low-rent cottages as a more permanent answer to homelessness.