Hope Village, a nonprofit in Chippewa Falls that provides free temporary housing in the form of “tiny houses,” was first launched in 2016 after the town’s only homeless shelter closed in 2014.
Continuing its original mission of guiding its temporary residents to stable shelter, community mentorship and education, the organization is seeking funds to improve its Hope Village community. This plan, called the Welcome Home Capital Campaign, includes the construction of multi-bedroom homes, handicap-accessible units, a children’s play area and much more.
Hope Village started with the time and dedication of dozens of volunteers, and the little houses were also built through the work of the volunteers. Other than a part-time director and a contract with a part-time case manager, everything at Hope Village is done by dozens of volunteers.
Currently, around 60 volunteers are working together on campaign materials. Crescendo Fundraising manages the project, having successfully completed more than 40 other fundraising campaigns over the past two decades.
Each Tiny House is a one-room house ranging from 8 by 12 feet, 8 by 15, 8 by 20, to 8 by 24. Each contains a bed, chemical toilets like those found in RVs and a kitchenette with microwave and mini-fridge.
The campaign is divided into three phases: the first, already completed, involved planning and research; the second, currently underway, includes securing 2.5 acres for the project two years ago and receiving a nearly $1 million grant for key components, including funds for the completion of Hope Village’s original vision of 10 small homes supported by a community center.
Phase three is where a target of $2.7 million comes into play. Originally planned at $3.4 million, estimated project costs have dropped to $2.7 million, including funds for the construction of additional units as well as support infrastructure and funds for vocational training workshop space.
Ultimately, Hope Village envisions a community completely free of homelessness. An ambitious goal, the $2.7 million campaign would be a significant step in the right direction if funded and completed.
The campaign has four main objectives:
- Build and maintain a small community of temporary tiny houses in Chippewa County.
- Offer case management and mentoring to all Tiny House guests.
- Renovate and maintain a community center with kitchen, laundry, showers and weather shelter.
- Build and maintain affordable housing to meet a community need and ensure sustainability.
Hope Village superintendent Mike Cohoon said about 100 people and 60 different households have been housed in Hope Village’s 10 tiny houses over the past few years, including five 18-year-old high school students, four newborn babies and families of all ages.
“Over the past six years, as we have provided guidance to our guests to help them find rental accommodations, it has become very clear to us that the Chippewa Valley has a severe housing shortage at all levels of price, but especially units that could be considered affordable for this population in financial difficulty.
village director hope
Although COVID-19 has had a global impact, it has disproportionately affected specific populations, including those who already faced housing and financial insecurity before the pandemic. For customers living in tiny homes, new challenges have arisen directly as a result of the pandemic.
“When a community has a struggling segment of its neighbors, it affects everyone,” Cohoon said.
As described in the campaign budget justification document, when the local YMCA closed – making its laundromat and showers inaccessible – Hope Village had to find alternatives for customers to shower and wash their clothes. Part of the fundraising campaign is solving this identified problem, creating a community center to meet these needs and more in the village of small houses.
The community center is already underway at 1825 Kennedy Road and will be completed by the end of July.
Overall, the fundraising campaign will provide approximately 30% of the funds needed for future affordable housing, which ideally will complement the funds from the grants that Hope Village is currently seeking, which will provide approximately 70% of the additional funding needed for housing. rental.
housing the homeless changes the trajectory of their lives.
VILLAGE OF HOPE DIRECTOR
Cohoon said the nearly $1 million COVID-related grant awarded by the City of Chippewa Falls and the Chippewa County Housing Authority during phase two was used for a few specific things, including funding to create the community center which allows four new toilets, three of which will have showers. It will also have a laundry and kitchen area, offices, a conference room, a community room and a storm shelter.
The $2.7 million in phase three will provide part of the funds for the creation of five duplexes and three six-plexes, totaling 28 additional one-, two- and three-bedroom units, built over a five-year period. All will be considered affordable housing, Cohoon said, and Hope Village will continue to seek grants and project support from donors during this time.
Supporting infrastructure also funded in phase three will include sewer, water and power resources, parking sports, greenhouse, etc. In addition, the workshop included in the final phase would be a space for vocational training and leisure activities such as woodworking, and will allow the construction of more small houses which could become a source of income at some point.
According to research compiled by the Chippewa County Council on Homelessness and Hunger, between January and December 2021, 2,685 people in the county applied for housing stabilization services; That’s 224 people per month. This average has more than doubled since 2020, when it was 99 people per month.
Becoming homeless is not necessarily the result of bad behavior. It may be the result of a car breakdown. All it takes is one thing to go wrong and you’re out of your home.
village of hope mentor, volunteer and builder of small houses
However, as Hope Village points out, these numbers are not quite representative of the full picture of homelessness and housing insecurity in the area. For example, rural homelessness is often overlooked.
“Having a safe and secure place to live reduces ER visits on extremely cold nights. It helps those looking to recover and improve to be successful,” Cohoon said. “It helps those looking for work to get a good night’s sleep and to have Wi-Fi access to fill out applications, it allows them to have a mailing address.
The county government does not have a mandate to provide housing for its unprotected citizens, so there is no funding in its budget for this type of housing assistance, and counties are not legally allowed to contribute to non-profit organizations. However, Cohoon said the community has been truly supportive of the cause and the residents of Hope Village over the years.
“Citizens, churches, businesses, civic organizations in Chippewa and Eau Claire counties have been very generous over the past six years,” Cohoon said. “The county and municipalities are underfunded and understaffed. Hope Village wants to help them in what they do by working with foster families, those who are aging and destitute, young families in difficulty and those struggling with mental illness.
Hope Village is confident that it will be able to raise the amount of funds needed for phase three of the project as there has been strong interest in support at pre-campaign committees, and applying for grants will be an effort. continuously during the project.
To learn more about Hope Village and learn more about the association as a whole, visit their site. For specific answers on the why and how of the fundraising campaign, as well as how to volunteer and/or donate, check out the extensive Hope Village page FAQs.