UPDATE: Microhomes aimed at helping Rhea County's homeless are now available
UPDATE: In April Channel 3 reported on a new neighborhood in Rhea County. The community was made microhouses, a temporary shelter to help those that are homeless get off the streets.
Thursday, We Care, along with other Rhea County officials officially opened up their first microhouse.
This new concept allows a family already facing the crisis of homelessness to have shelter. The 300 sq. foot home allows them to regroup and rebuild.
PREVIOUS STORY: A new kind of neighborhood is coming to Rhea County. They're called microhouses, and they're a temporary way of helping the homeless off the streets.
"Really, this is the perfect little house," said Alton Steen, who runs the Dayton non-profit, We Care. The organization helps local low-income families.
At less than 200 square feet, it is the perfect little home for someone who needs one. The microhouse is a new concept for Rhea County that helps the rural homeless.
"The immediate reaction is that we don't have a homeless problem here in Rhea County," Steen said. "But the fact is, we do."
Steen said at any given time, more than 300 people in the county are homeless.
"A lot of these folks need a temporary place to go to get back on their feet," he said.
According to Rhea County ordinance, homes must be at least 600 square feet. But We Care got a special exemption to build the microhomes.
Four of them will soon sit in a lot behind the non-profit, fully equipped with appliances, plumbing and power. Steen said plans to build more are in the works.
"We are wanting to create a little community of these microhouses," he said.
The adjacent property will eventually house several larger microhomes. The non-profit will charge a low rent for those to help keep the transitional microhomes free of charge.
"They can cook meals, they can take showers and be out of the elements," said Steen. "And then move on to something else when it's feasible for them to do."
According to Steen, the average cost to build and furnish a microhome is around $10,000. They hope to open the homes for people when construction is complete. Steen expects the microhome community to be fully complete within the next couple of years.