TGB Approves 'Tiny Home' Community to Address Homelessness
By Joe Morey
In an effort to tackle the homelessness problem at Lac Courte Oreilles, one option the Tribal Governing Board (TGB) approved at a recent weekly meeting is to purchase and develop a community of ‘tiny homes.’ The possible location hasn’t been set yet, but they may be considering a spot near the Whitefish Bridge.
“We are currently checking on how much land we have available there,” Chairman Louis Taylor stated.
LCO Secretary-Treasurer Tweed Shuman said the Tribe is spending over $10,000 per week on hotel rooms mostly for homeless tribal members. A community of ‘tiny homes’ would aim to alleviate this expense.
ARPA Coordinator Brian Bisonette said the TGB is still working on a vision of what the ‘tiny home’ community should look like.
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.”