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Krewson Plans To Use Federal Funds To Build 50 Tiny Homes For Homeless People

Fifty tiny houses like these, designed to house homeless people, are slated for a lot in the Downtown West neighborhood of St. Louis.
City of St. Louis
Fifty tiny houses like these, designed to house homeless people, are slated for a lot in the Downtown West neighborhood of St. Louis.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson plans to spend $600,000 in federal money to build tiny houses for homeless people in the city.

Krewson said Tuesday that she will ask the city’s Board of Estimate and Apportionment to approve spending money from the federal CARES ACT that funds coronavirus pandemic relief. The money would pay for 50 tiny houses at 900 N. Jefferson Ave., formerly home to St. Louis RV Park.

The board is scheduled to meet Wednesday.

Most of the 50 dwellings would have room for one occupant plus basic amenities including a bed, desk, charging station for electronic devices and climate control. Only two will meet the accessibility requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Krewson said homeless people who move into the tiny houses would be better able to avoid contracting or spreading the coronavirus.

“With this investment, we’ll be able to create new opportunities for temporary, transitional housing and better protect our unhoused neighbors, who remain at risk of contracting this dangerous virus,” Krewson said in a statement.

Advocates for homeless people say it’s particularly difficult for them to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

“You can’t quarantine, you can’t do social distancing, you can’t wash your hands, you can’t be safe in any way if you don’t have a place to stay,” said Teka Childress, a longtime advocate for homeless people and supporter of the tiny-house movement.

“You can’t shelter in place if you don’t have a place,” Childress said.

Krewson said the first occupants could move in by Dec. 1.

If approved, the project will be the second cluster of tiny houses for the homeless in St. Louis. Last month the Board of Alderman approved sale of a city-owned lot in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood to Veterans Community Project, a nonprofit group planning to build 50 tiny houses for homeless veterans.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @jeremydgoodwin

Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Jeremy D. Goodwin joined St. Louis Public Radio in spring of 2018 as a reporter covering arts & culture and co-host of the Cut & Paste podcast. He came to us from Boston and the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, where he covered the same beat as a full-time freelancer, contributing to The Boston Globe, WBUR 90.9 FM, The New York Times, NPR and lots of places that you probably haven’t heard of.