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Local nonprofit Settled near completion on first of 5 planned tiny homes for 'sacred settlement'

Richard Reeve
Updated: August 23, 2020 10:11 PM
Created: August 20, 2020 09:41 PM

The roar of a chainsaw. The staccato beat of a hammer. The slap of plywood on a two-by-four.

These are the sounds of second chances.

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"We like to say it takes a village of churches to raise a sacred settlement,” says Gabrielle Clowdus. “We build one home at a time. Each home gets sponsored by a different church.”

Clowdus, the co-founder and CEO of homeless advocacy group Settled, along with dozens of volunteers have been gathering in a back lot at the Colonial Church of Edina to make a new tiny home.

It’s approximately 20 feet long and 10 feet wide — about the size of a fish house but big enough provide shelter for a homeless person.

“I was pretty excited to get that plywood,” said Adam Thompson, a volunteer from Edina. “I thought there might be some graffiti, but that’s OK.”

Plywood installed during riots now being used to build tiny homes

Since late June, Settled volunteers have been collecting plywood used to protect buildings during the riots. The group plans to build four more tiny homes by October.

Making something old, new again.

“The sky’s the limit on how many you can build,” Clowdus said. “That’s the beauty of this model.”

The supply seems almost endless. Numerous businesses in the Twin Cities were covered in plywood; some still are.

And the need for shelter for the homeless, at times, also appears endless.

The latest report on homelessness by the Wilder Foundation says nearly 20,000 Minnesotans are without a roof over their heads, and that 1,100 people are "chronically" homeless in the metro.

“We could build a house like this? And this would help at least one, maybe even two people change the direction of their chronic homelessness? We’re in," said the Rev. Jeff Lindsay, the senior pastor at Colonial Church of Edina.

“We’re creating a space for someone,” adds Thompson. “A space for peace and rest that probably hasn't experienced a lot of that."

What started as piles of wood last Sunday is now taking shape. By Thursday afternoon, plywood sheets had been hammered onto two-by-four supports.

Settled says it hopes to have the home fully functional by Sunday afternoon.  

“I think it’s great,” said David Doren. “There’s a lot of people out there in my same situation.” 

Doren, a Gulf War-era veteran, was homeless for several years, before he was rescued from the cold by Settled in January 2019.

Now, he’s using his carpentry skills to build homes and help others living on the street.

"I still have a lot of friends out there,” Doren said. “A lot of them I'd like to help, and I haven't been able to. But now, I might be able to help them in some way.”

The homes cost about $25,000 apiece, and each one is sponsored by a church.

Plywood protecting businesses across the metro repurposed after civil unrest

"The fact that we're using this reused plywood, we're giving second chances to it,” Lindsey declares. “We’re giving second chances to people that are going to live in the house, so it's pretty exciting."

The plan is to install five completed tiny homes at Woodland Hills Church, and put them on public display. It’s a kind of parade of tiny homes for advocates, public officials and residents to check out for themselves.

Settled calls it a "sacred settlement."

"We're trying to create a peaceful place where people can emerge,” Lindsay says. “It’s going to go to a new neighborhood. Create a new neighborhood for folks who are ready to make changes in life.”

But this home is more than a shelter. Settled says it’s about finding a new way of life — and a new future for those who have no place to call home.

"They really invest in living in that community, and have moved their lives forward,” Clowdus says. “And we wrap around each person with a group of volunteers, so that they can meet their life goal."

If you are looking to help Settled with their mission you can find a donation link here.


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