Drake and Joppa Join Forces to Build Tiny Homes for the Homeless

Tiny homes built by Joppa and Drake. (WHO-HD)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Over the past few days volunteers with Drake University and Joppa have been putting the finishing touches on several tiny homes that will be part of a village of tiny homes built specifically for the homeless.

The tiny home village would have a total of 50 tiny homes when it’s complete

Drake students and other volunteers built three of them in a little over a week.

These tiny homes have a bed, place for storage, a tv and that’s it.

The village will have a shared kitchen and private bathrooms separate from the tiny homes so that each home doesn’t need to have plumbing or other utilities.

People who have nowhere to go will come stay in the village for 6 to 24 months while Joppa helps them find a job and then move into a permanent home.

Joe Stevens, the Co-Founder and CEO of Joppa, said they have been working on the project for over four years and it’s finally starting to become a reality.

“You know Joppa helps people survive, find housing and rebuild their lives. And in the last nine years we’ve helped 285 people get off the streets here in central Iowa and just over 85 percent of those men and women and children are still in their homes. So we know how to do this, we just need more available housing that we can control,” Stevens said.

Stevens said people are concerned about the location of the village and worry property values might go down.

“People who haven’t studied this problem and haven’t seen other successful tiny home villages in other cities initially have some fear and doubts about it and that’s completely understandable. But once you look into it, these are actually good for neighborhoods. They lift property values. They give folks that have lost their homes, a place to go,” Stevens said.

Stevens said they want the tiny home village to be close to downtown Des Moines and within a mile of a bus stop and a convenience store.

One of the biggest obstacles for people that want to build tiny homes is the inability to put them on a permanent foundation due to lack of codes.

“Many cities really haven’t caught up with the tiny home movement. But what’s happened recently is the International Residential Code has come out with supporting tiny home villages so now other cities and the city of Des Moines has a chance to adopt that code in their next cycle,” Stevens said.

He added, each tiny home cost about $6,500 to complete.

Drake students and community members came together for over a week to complete this project.

Andy Verlengia, Drake University Director of Alumni Relations, said this project really brought people together in a special way.

“I think any time you do volunteer projects it’s so neat to see people come and take ownership. They show up at the start of their shift. They’re not sure what they got into but they’re excited to be there and to watch them really take ownership and wanting to finish. We had some members of our men’s soccer team, the whole men’s soccer team was working here one afternoon working on the shingles of the roof and got it half way done. Two of the guys said we want to come back tomorrow night on our own and had one of the volunteers with them and they finished up the roof,” Verlengia said.

While they wait for code to be adopted by the city and find a final location several, metro high schools will also build some of the homes that will go in this village of 50 they hope to have.