Rev. Faith Fowler is the lead pastor of Cass United Methodist Church and executive director of the church-related Cass Community Social Services (CCSS) in Detroit, Michigan. She asked a fateful question while was sitting on the deck of the cottage she was able to purchase with a down payment from an inheritance. Many of the clients she worked with through Cass Community Social Services would never have an inheritance that would allow them to purchase a home. They’d never have equity. They’d never have anything to pass along to their children.

What if she and her congregation could change that?

And with that question, the Tiny Homes Detroit project was born. THD provides rent-to-own opportunities for home ownership to people who are shut out of the housing market—because of low income, criminal records, or past evictions. Homes range in size from 250 to 400 square feet, with occupants paying $1 per square foot in rent. After meeting just a few basic requirements, as well as seven years of on-time rental payments, they can own the home. Each one is estimated to be worth between $40 and $50,000. Not only do they have a permanent place to live, but they have equity, a home they can sell, or pass on to loved ones should they so choose. This is a giant step out of the cycle of poverty for people who would otherwise be engaged in the day-to-day struggle of homelessness

This is a very specific solution for a very specific location. Because these homes are tiny, this solution is particularly designed for single people or couples. CCSS actually owned the plot of land upon which these 25 homes are being built. They worked with the city and county to cut through the zoning red tape that dictated home sizes. DHT relies on donations from church members, individuals, corporations and foundations to make this dream a reality. DHT is very much still a program in progress. It is, however, a creative way that one congregation is working to provide solutions—not only to homelessness—but the cycle of poverty itself.

This is just one creative way that a one faith community came together to find a practical, positive solution to homelessness and poverty. All over the country, congregations are working to make homelessness a relic of history. LMM invites your faith community to work with us on our Cleveland-specific solutions.