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Chairman Taylor Gives Update on Proposed Tiny Homes Community

By Joe Morey News Editor


Earlier this year the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board (TGB) approved purchasing and developing a community of tiny homes on the Reservation to tackle the homelessness problem, which currently results in nearly a million dollars spent yearly in hotel rooms in the Hayward area.


LCO Tribal Chairman, Louis Taylor, told LCO News that the plan is still being discussed at the TGB level, but a location hasn’t been decided on, nor has the decision to either purchase the homes or build them ourselves.


“A location was chosen near where the four Covid homes were placed,” Taylor explained, “But, differing opinions among the leadership on where the homes should be has delayed the decision.”


Taylor went on to state several ideas were presented to see the differences in costs of purchasing the homes or of building the tiny homes or cabins within the Tribe, such as LCO Development, or a private owned company, which also resulted in delays for the project to move forward.


When the tiny homes development was approved earlier this year, a location near the Whitefish Bridge was tossed around, but, since that time as Chairman Taylor indicated, the preferred location moved to the north end of the Reservation near Giiwedin.


LCO Secretary-Treasurer Tweed Shuman said the Tribe is spending well over $10,000 per week on hotel rooms mostly for homeless tribal members. He stated the community of ‘tiny homes’ would aim to alleviate this expense. Over the past year, a grant awarded to the Tribe was used to cover that nearly one million dollar expense.


Taylor said the grant that funded the last year is almost finished and then the cost of those rooms would fall back on the Tribe’s general fund. He said the TGB needs to move on the tiny homes project soon.


Shuman said each tribal member that stays in a room for a week is costing the Tribe nearly $500 per week and that some stay for long extended periods of time.


“I’ve heard from tribal members that if one tribal member is entitled to $500 per week, then all tribal members should be entitled to it,” Shuman stated. He said he understands their point of view regardless if the hotel vouchers are meant to help people who need it.


Taylor said the TGB needs to be tough on whether to allow people to stay in the hotels longer than a month.


Tiny home villages have become part of a nationwide movement as an alternative approach to housing homeless. In some recently constructed villages, each house cost as little as $10,000 to build. The TGB is weighing that option versus the $10,000 per week spent on hotel rooms.


Currently, in addition to the hotel room expense, there are two shelters on the reservation.


In the recent ARPA Report issued on March 22, 2022, it stated regarding the homelessness situation, “The Tribe is working with Indian Health Service Engineers, contracted surveyors, BIA Roads Engineers, LCO Development, Tribal Realty, Public Works, Jump River Electric and WE Energies to create communities and fund water, sewer, roads, and utility infrastructure.”


The report further stated, “As of November, 2021, there were 205 people on the Housing Authority’s waiting list. We know the housing shortage and homelessness is critical but the problem cannot be quantified because Reservation homelessness doesn't look like inner city homelessness. The Lac Courte Oreilles Housing Survey of 2018 found that the reservation homeless are "couch surfers" who frequently move from place to place by hitching rides.”