Tiny Homes Community Favored in Newsletter Poll
By Joe Morey
Two weeks ago, LCO News published an update article to the proposed ‘tiny homes community’ on the Reservation to address the homelessness problem, currently costing the Tribe approximately one million dollars per year for housing Members in area hotel rooms.
Following that article, a poll was conducted through the weekly digital newsletter and on the Lac Courte Oreilles Today Facebook page, which is only open to tribal and community members only.
Through the digital newsletter poll, voters overwhelmingly support the Tribe moving forward on the plan for a tiny home community, while those voting through Facebook, overwhelmingly opposed it.
A total of 235 votes were cast through the digital newsletter with 167 saying yes, build the community. There were 59 votes opposed and 9 votes had no opinion. This resulted in 71% in favor, while only 33% were in favor on the Facebook poll, with only 56 voters.
There were comments registered on the Facebook poll where those participating seemed okay with a tiny home community but they wanted it to be for people who were homeless for reasons other than drug activity. They also made comments regarding they favored a community like this built more aimed at the Elder community.
Richard Conger, LCO Tribal Elder, stated the Tribe should build a building for the Elders who don't want to go to homes off-Rez and spend their last days.
“I think it would be smart to build an elderly community with tiny homes and a çommunity center so they can have group outings, socializing, and independence,” added Keshia Chino.
“I believe an assisted living facility would help the community better at this time,” said Donald DeNasha. “But if you are going to build this anyways it should be for the people that are trying to better their lives and not be filled up with drug/pill addicts and alcoholics.”
Other comments reflected this sentiment as well, including from LCO Conservation Warden, Henry Bearhart, who stated, “I have mixed feelings on this. Some homeless choose to be homeless while others became homeless due to their actions. Others have had something happen in their lives that forced them to be homeless, I’m all for helping those that are willing to make a change or need/want the help to better their lives and not take advantage of the tribe.”
Deanna Maguire said it should depend if they’re working, sober, or have custody of their children. “There should obviously be things that would qualify you to live there.”
Leslie Quaderer said there should be random drug testing for occupants of the tiny homes.
LCO Chairman Taylor said two weeks ago that a grant has been used over 2022 to fund the annual million dollar a year spent on housing the homeless in hotel rooms, but those grant funds are nearly finished and the cost would fall back on the Tribe’s general fund.
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.”