Rotarians gathered last week at Emerald Village, a village of tiny homes designed to provide accessible and sustainable housing to those with very low incomes. It was absolutely incredible to witness the success of this visionary project.

SquareOne Villages

The land is owned by a non-profit, SquareOne Villages. Emerald Village is a separate housing co-op that leases the land from SquareOne. The residents run the village entirely. The co-op is “owned” by its members, the residents of the Village.

Emerald Village provides a safe, livable, permanent dwelling for its residents. Each of the tiny homes has a small kitchen area and a fully functional bathroom, plus sleeping and living areas. They are between 160-300 square feet and rent is between $250-350. A large community center is accessible by all residents and has a much larger kitchen space as well as laundry and meeting space/storage.

Unlike most affordable housing projects, residents of Emerald Village hold a share of ownership that they can cash out if and when they move out. As part of their agreement with the co-op, they have responsibilities to meet and volunteer regularly within the community.

The project is sponsored by dozens of local businesses. They contribute monetary and in-kind donations of materials and labor to create these ingenious homes. Each home is very different and involves a unique architectural design/floorplan. A Rotary grant is supporting a current build of one of these homes.

Who Lives There?

Most of the residents were or were nearly homeless prior to coming to the Village. In general, they are lower-income individuals, couples, and small families seeking affordable housing. Several are seniors on a fixed income. They were previously homeless because their SSI or social security is not enough to afford market-rate rent. They have not been one of the lucky few to receive a Section 8 voucher.

There are an application process and lottery system for each home that becomes available. There are criteria residents must agree to and meet as well. Those that apply and do meet the criteria are put into a lottery and chosen at random. Then, a second phase of the process includes a background and reference check.

Square One Villages has created, thus far, three self-managed communities of cost-effective tiny homes for people in need of housing.