Despite getting limited feedback from city officials, Janesville resident Rich Snyder made it clear Monday night he’s going forward with a plan to place a mobile “tiny home” on a lot in the Fourth Ward.
Snyder told the Janesville City Council during a public comment period that he plans to raise money to build a 200-square-foot home on a privately owned residential lot in the 100 block of South Franklin Street.
It would be the first of six tiny homes that Snyder hopes will provide free, temporary housing for local homeless people who are trying to get back on their feet.
Snyder said he would build the home on a movable trailer frame and use it as a demonstration unit to show the community his plans for a six-dwelling tiny home village—a project he’s calling ”Tiny Homes for the Homeless.”
The real homes, however, would be set on concrete slabs and link in to sewer, water and electric service, Snyder has said.
He has launched a GoFundMe page to raise the $7,200 he’ll need to build the first home.
Monday, he told the council that a property owner on South Franklin Street wants to donate an 8,800-square-foot lot to whatever nonprofit agency would manage the proposed village.
Snyder said the lot is kitty-corner from the Harris Ace Hardware store on South River Street.
He said people have volunteered to help him build the homes, including a local excavator who would donate labor and materials to help connect the homes to sewer and water service.
Snyder also said he’s working with a local nonprofit that operates a homeless shelter, and the nonprofit is considering whether it might manage the village as transitional housing for clients.
Current city zoning allows one-unit and two-unit family homes on a single lot, but not multiple small homes. Homes also must be at least 800 square feet. Snyder’s homes would be much smaller, and they’d be clustered together.
A tiny home village for homeless military veterans in Racine got zoning approval under a “rooming house” use, Racine officials told The Gazette.
The city council doesn’t give feedback during public comment, but city officials have told The Gazette that Snyder’s project would require a complex zoning review and that it could face neighborhood resistance. Questions include who would manage the property and how residents might be screened or vetted.
Snyder told the city he knows he needs zoning approval for the project, but he said the city wouldn’t have to worry about donating land because he’s got an offer from a private owner.
He told the council tiny homes are one solution for a local housing crunch that has made it harder for homeless people to find places to rent—let alone afford the rent.
“This is something we’ll have to work with the city on and go from there. I hope this can happen,” Snyder said. “It would really help the homeless in this town.”