By FRANCES REESE
In this vastly growing world, with housing parallel to it, it’s easy to forget that many citizens don’t have a place to call home. A local partnership has come up with a unique solution for a specific group of people among them.
XDS, a Chatham County nonprofit founded in 2004 that is also known as Cross Disability Services, has joined forces with Morrisville-based Garman Homes to build a community in Pittsboro for veterans and people experiencing mental illness. The Tiny Homes Village will be part of a 40-acre alternative therapeutic farm called the Farm at Penny Lane.
It will consist of 15 well-designed, affordable and permanent homes that are roughly 400 square feet and cost $50,000 each. Veterans with chronic health conditions will be given priority for five of the homes, and the village will offer all residents a path to growth and recovery through healthy initiatives and community-building programs.
Work on this project began over a decade ago when XDS founder Thavagunan Mahadevan observed that individuals living with mental illness still faced significant challenges, even after medical intervention. As UNC’s director of operations for the Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health, Mahadevan realized that there was a vital need for social support as part of mental health patients’ overall care.
In 2016, he partnered with the UNC School of Social Work to pilot the Tiny Homes Village project. Garman Homes Founder and CEO Alaina Money-Garman and Product Manager Emily Bosman helped make the project a reality. The North Carolina State University School of Architecture’s Design + Build program also put their stamp of approval on the project by helping the team erect the very first Tiny Homes Village building.
XDS and Garman Homes put a lot of thought into the Tiny Homes Village floor plan and considered who was not in the room when having important conversations about how to design the units, so they could include and amplify those voices.
They laid the units out in a horseshoe shape to allow for privacy, so each home faces a different direction. This ensures that residents feel they are part of a community, but still have access to solitude and introspection when they desire it.
Residents enter each home through a brightly colored front door into a living room and full kitchen with an island. Each unit has a master bedroom, full bath and vanity. Natural light filters in through six windows, with some serving as transoms above a doorway or higher on a wall to allow for privacy. This forward-thinking design, combined with the farm’s tranquil landscape, make these homes optimal spaces for rest and recovery.
Residents will receive support from doctors, social workers and peer support specialists who have also experienced recovery programs. Transportation and community-based programming will encourage residents to work toward self-sufficiency.
They will have access to weekly nutritious meals from local restaurants, fresh fruits and vegetables, and visits from UNC PAWS (Peer Assisted Wellness Support), which provides emotional support dogs residents can interact with.
Money-Garman, Bosman and Mahavadevan have persevered through typical construction obstacles and setbacks to meet their goal, choosing to learn from them and lead by example. Their mission to create a community that offers support, stability, friendship and inspiration is coming to fruition, and will ensure that each resident of the Tiny Homes Village at the Farm at Penny Lane will be able to construct a new chapter in their lives.
Learn more about the Tiny Homes Village at the Farm at Penny Lane at xdsinc.org/tiny-homes-village.