CHAMPAIGN – In an effort to reduce homelessness and find uses for its vacant lots, Champaign has found organizations to build mini-homes on two of its lots.
One home passed its final inspection this month and a resident is expected to move in on any day, said John Ruffin, the city’s neighborhood coordinator.
The other was completed about a year ago.
“We have been working with a local ministry, Restoration Urban Ministries, for several years, and in 2014 the Reverend (Ervin T.) Williams came up with the idea of creating mini-houses to meet some of the ongoing housing needs. of our friends with no addresses, ”Ruffin said.
The mini-houses fit well on some of the smaller or oddly shaped vacant lots, Ruffin said, and two lots have been donated to city restoration departments.
“They were able to build a mini-house on one of the lots,” said Ruffin, and the other was donated to First Mennonite Church in partnership with CU at Home.
“These mini-homes are small, but they have space for a living room, bedroom, kitchen area, and bathrooms,” Ruffin said.
When the City acquires vacant land, whether by donation, confiscation or otherwise, it first tries to find a private developer.
“But when that’s not possible, we try to identify and work with local nonprofits to identify the next best uses,” Ruffin said.
He’s not sure if more mini-homes are on the way, but was optimistic given the estimated construction cost of $ 35,000.
“We certainly think this price is a good price, and we are exploring the opportunity with local affordable housing developers and development organizations to see if this is a concept people might want to undertake,” Ruffin said.
In another vacant lot project, the city worked with students from the University of Illinois competing on the Solar Decathlon project.
Students and faculty have used green building techniques and designs in an attempt to reduce the home’s carbon footprint.
“They used a solar roof, advanced construction materials and processes,” Ruffin said. “They have an innovative gray water system used in the house to capture and reuse drainage water throughout the house.”
The house was then turned over to the Champaign County Chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
The Solar House is located at Bradley Avenue and Walnut Street.
“The solar house is more of an attraction and something that we want people to drive by,” Ruffin said.