A local craftsman who began fundraising for an ill-fated plan to build tiny homes for the homeless in Janesville has decided to donate the cash he raised to a homeless men’s shelter.
Richard Snyder said in a news release that he has opted to give $3,000 he raised on a GoFundMe page to the GIFTS Men’s Shelter.
Snyder collected the money to try to launch “Tiny Homes for the Homeless,” an enclave of small homes he proposed as transitional housing for homeless people. He planned to place about six 200-square-foot homes on a parcel in Janesville’s Fourth Ward.
His proposal never moved past fundraising and conceptual planning, but it faced a backlash from Fourth Ward residents who said they thought the proposal was rushed and wasn’t a good fit for the neighborhood.
Snyder floated the plan late last year after reading news reports that the city was assembling an ad hoc task force on homelessness. He quickly launched a fundraising effort on social media and had begun designing plans for a tiny home on wheels that he could move to various locations to drum up interest in the project.
In his release, Snyder said although many donors had pledged labor and materials, Tiny Homes for the Homeless “at this time did not work out.”
After facing neighborhood opposition, Snyder said he was leaning toward donating money he raised to a Janesville startup social service agency that would help struggling military veterans.
Snyder told The Gazette he plans to donate other funds he has raised to the military veterans group once it achieves official nonprofit status.
Snyder said he and his partner, Jim Crittenden, gave GIFTS Men’s Shelter outreach coordinator Brittany Ranum a $3,000 cashier’s check plus $50 in cash at a homeless outreach fundraiser earlier this month at the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds.
The money came from private donations he had collected for the tiny homes project and from proceeds from stained glass classes he teaches.
A significant portion came from a prominent Janesville businessman who Snyder said liked the idea of providing affordable transitional housing for homeless people.
Snyder said everyone who donated to the project approved of his gift to GIFTS.
GIFTS initially considered partnering with Snyder on his plan, but the organization pulled back when its board decided it should stick to its core mission of serving homeless men through its own shelter and social service network.
In the news release, Snyder said he hopes city officials will realize the need for small, low-cost dwellings for singles or couples.