Volunteers look to build tiny home community in Woodstock
WOODSTOCK -- After watching the impact of A Better Tent City in Kitchener, a group of volunteers in Woodstock are hoping to create a similar community to help bridge the housing gap for those experiencing homelessness.
Phase one of the project kicked off on Saturday, as volunteers got to work constructing the first 100 sq. ft. tiny home.
"This is a safe place for these people that are experiencing homelessness to call their own. It's heated, t's insulated," said Steve Zehr, president of Woodstock-Oxford Rotary.
The Woodstock-Oxford Rotary has partnered with a number of community groups, including the Community Free Table, to bring this project to life.
The table located in downtown Woodstock offers free snacks, drinks, basic hygiene supplies to those in need.
"When I first started the Community Free Table in 2018 I was feeding about 18 people. Within a year we were up to 45 and now we are up to 60," said Chris Eby, founder of the Community Free Table.
Eby says he has seen an increase in people who use the table during the pandemic, which has demonstrated the need for housing solutions in the community.
"I'd like to be able to say that we have no homelessness, but obviously that's a dream far, far away," he said.
The lumber for the group's first home was donated by the Woodstock Home Hardware, but in order to meet their goal to build an additional ten units, the group says they'll need support from the community.
With each home is expected to cost a few thousand dollars, and in order to help fund the newly constructed unit, the already constructed will be used as an example in the Home Hardware parking lot.
"So that way they have the ability to go out into the community and say this is what it is we are going to be building and this is where it will end up and this is how it's going to function," said owner of the Woodstock Home Hardware Adam Moulton.
With the goal of creating a community outside of the downtown core and near a bus route, the volunteers are taking inspiration and guidance from Kitchener's A Better Tent City.
"They've been very instrumental in helping us to coordinate a blueprint and a kind of plan we want to follow and I think its incredible what they're doing," said Zehr.
An exact location has yet to be announced for the site and the project also still needs approval from council before going forward.