Life Village develops tiny home project for people with disabilities
The Mountain Times - 6/14/2018
BOONE - For parents who have children with disabilities, independent living isn't always guaranteed.
Candace Lang, Life Village director of development, wants to make it a viable option.
Life Village, which started as KAMPN (Kids with Autism Making Progress in Nature) summer camp, is a nonprofit organization that provides an inclusive living environment for people with disabilities. The organization's newest project is developing a community of tiny houses, ranch-style homes and cottage-style homes.
Lang, whose daughter, Erin, was diagnosed with autism and cerebral palsy, began looking into housing options for her 12-year-old daughter in preparation for Erin's approaching adulthood. Lang did not want to enter her into an institution, and group homes did not seem like the right fit. Lang also said she wanted to enjoy retirement with her husband, eventually. She needed to find a solution that worked for her daughter and herself.
"Parents just burn out," Lang said. "You get tired. These individuals want to be independent. They want to have their friends around. This is a chance for them to live in a community."
Lang traveled to Indiana to visit family friends, who recommended the Langs visit Hannah and Friends ? a tiny home community for people with disabilities. Lang wanted to bring the concept to Boone, where she had family and support nearby.
The proposed community will house 15 to 20 residents with disabilities, and people without disabilities who need affordable housing. Additionally, the community will offer job training, parent-to-parent support, employment opportunities, other housing options if the community runs out of housing, adaptive sports and a summer camp.
In the next year, Lang said she wants to secure a space for the tiny homes near Appalachian State University's campus, Appalcart stops and the Watauga Medical Center. After Life Village finds space for their community, they plan to develop the summer camp, create a community garden and possibly bring in a greenhouse to involve university horticulture students.
Creating another housing option for families who have children with disabilities is especially important to Lang for peace of mind. Lang said there's less chance of abuse in this community environment as opposed to an institution or a group home.
Tyler Shore, a future Life Village tiny home resident, said that he looks forward to having independence - and being able to watch his favorite country music videos.
Shore is not alone in hoping for independence. Paul Wellborn, a future tiny home resident, said that he cannot wait to live on his own, especially in a tiny house.
"I'm surprised how much stuff you can fit in a small structure," Wellborn said.
As for Erin, she's excited to have a place to show off her doll collection, one day.
Lang hopes the tiny home will be the first step to help residents gain practical skills, like learning how to clean a space, write a check and shop for groceries.
So far, one 30-by-8 foot home has been constructed through an ASU building sciences class taught by Chris Schoonover. Students and Schoonover began construction on the home on May 29 and will complete the structure in the first week of July.
The rest of the houses' construction depends on the organization's Crowdrise campaign and grant applications. To access Life Village's Crowdrise campaign, visit www.crowdrise.com/tiny-house-big-dream. For more information on Life Village, visit www.thelifevillage.net.
Until then, Lang will continue to search for the tiny house's new home.