The city last Thursday afternoon announced an Tiny Home Village pilot program that will be located on State Road, near the prison complex.
The city sent out a Request for Information on Oct. 21. Nonprofits have until 5 p.m. on Dec. 16 to bid for the contract.
The original deadline had been Nov. 18, but the city extended it to allow for a site visit among interested nonprofits.
The RFI process will be overseen by the city Office of Homeless Services.
The village will consist of 12 to 24 micro units.
Priority will be given to homeless people age 65 or older or who have certain chronic underlying health conditions that can make them susceptible to serious illness should they contract COVID. Residents will not be required to work or take part in job training or any other program to improve their situation, since they are already elderly and disabled.
There is no time limit on how long they can stay, though the objective is to have them gain income and develop a long-term housing plan.
City Councilman Bobby Henon, who recommended the site, and the Upper Holmesburg and Holmesburg civic associations support the plan.
The village, from 8201-8301 State Road, will be based on Seattle’s Low-Income Housing Institute model. The city will provide the ground, landscaping, utilities and fencing.
The site is zoned industrial. But, since the city has a State of Emergency for the virus, zoning and building code issues will be waived for one year.
The nonprofit will provide 24-hour security and cameras, along with 24-hour onsite staffing, though that could be a resident or peer. In Seattle, for instance, residents serve as security guards and screen new residents.
Each unit will be 120 square feet and include heat (probably electrical) and electricity, but not water. The size is expected to be 10 feet by 12 feet.
“It’s the size of a bedroom,” said Liz Hersh, director of the Office of Homeless Services.
There will be a shared kitchen and laundry facilities, along with centralized bathrooms and showers in a trailer. A nearby bus route is an option for residents to go to stores, doctors’ appointments or run errands.
A federal CARES emergency solutions grant will provide funds for meals, transportation, case management and construction.
The city is also planning permanent homeless housing on the 4700 block of Aspen St. in West Philadelphia.
Hersh said the pilot program on State Road will provide dignity and support services for residents.
“We’re really excited to try it,” she said.
Hersh said, if the pilot is successful, the city hopes there will be more similar programs. ••