Tiny homes will soon be popping up on Syracuse's South Side

Apr 24, 2015

Some very small homes are coming soon to Syracuse’s South Side.

These homes will be small, just a few hundred square feet. Three of them will be able to fit onto a single property lot. But it’s not a way to cope with urban congestion like in some bigger cities, Syracuse doesn’t have that problem. But it does face a shortage of affordable housing.

A Tiny Home for Good and local housing charity Operation Northern Comfort are getting ready to break ground on their first three tiny homes this spring.

A standalone home could be a better environment for someone currently homeless than a low-income apartment complex, says the group's Andrew Lunetta, because those are often "poorly maintained, and also are a lot of the externalities that come with homelessness, whether that be drugs or alcohol, or mental illness all kind of compound on each other."

Though Lunetta admits the idea of a homeless person for a neighbor can carry a stigma. 

"I think that’s the nature of the word homelessness and that word has a lot of baggage. But I’m convinced that if we can do our job correctly and if we can do it with the proper process of getting to know the neighbors well and sharing about it and hoping to put a human face on the people who are moving in, we can kind of lighten those concerns," he said.

Homes will be just one room, with a cooking area and full bathroom. They’ll cost about $22,000 each to build. Residents will pay rent based on income, but likely just a few hundred dollars a month.

The group has its eye on a lot on Kennedy Street on Syracuse’s South Side. It’s waiting final approval from the county. Lunetta says they hope to construct 60 tiny homes in the next few years. The first slate of homes will be built with donations. He says then income-based rent collected from tenants will help make the project sustainable.

Operation Northern Comfort is hosting its annual crawfish festival May 1 in Syracuse's Clinton Square as a fundraiser for the home construction.

"I think the whole organization has a feeling towards people in need and I can’t think of anybody that’s more in need than a lot of the homeless. They have a lot of problems," said Operation Northern Comfort's Warren Machell. "And I think the idea of putting them into their own individual house, sort of speak, will help them. And help the community as well."