Aiken city leaders receive update on proposed tiny home community

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 12:28 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - President of Aiken County Homeless Housing George Clare updated the Aiken City Council about their plans and operating principles for the proposed tiny home community.

The group is asking the city to modify the zoning ordinance to allow smaller tiny home dwellings, identify an approval process for the proposed community, partner with Aiken County Homeless Housing to obtain land and permission and discuss a portion of land in Gloverville for the first community.

Clare isn’t a builder, but he is a man with a vision.

Clare wants to propose a plan to bring around 25 tiny homes on about two acres of land. The plans show a fenced community with a meeting room, laundry, basketball court, and picnic tables.

“It’s got a fully functioning bathroom, a kitchen, a sleeping area, and a sitting area,” said Clare.

On Monday, he was trying to convince city leaders in Aiken to join him.

His presentation includes reasons why the group believes the city should help the homeless. It includes religious, humanist, community spirit, and business concerns.

He wants to give homeless people a second chance.

“The real thing is only four times as wide and four times as long. Okay and being able to show people how you would put bathroom facilities, kitchen facilities, sitting and sleeping facilities together in that small of a house, one that’s affordable, and that’s the key thing,” he said.

His plan is to start by building 25 homes and paying for them with the money he’s raising.

“We’re not asking the government to fund this. We’re going to build these with private support,” said Clare.

In the presentation, he lays out the organization’s plan for success: obtain city endorsement, find and obtain land, developed the site, build the tiny homes, and deed to the operations organization.

All he needs is for the City of Aiken to modify an ordinance to speed the process along.

“There is a single line requirement in the zoning ordinance that says there shall be no dwelling built less than 450 square feet,” he said. “And this is, as I mentioned earlier, about 175 square feet. Okay, in order for us to have a hope of building these and providing this service to the community, that has to change. "

The tiny homes would come along with some rules from job help to money management training. The plan is to get people back on their feet.

Council Woman Lessie Price said: “It is the first time we’ve had a pretty solid plan to bring to city council. Housing is a basic need, affordable housing. There’s a lot of houses out there, but affordable housing that people can use for the needs of themselves and their individual family.”

She says it’s a good idea, but there’s still some work to do.

“Good things coming. There are some good things. There’s good information that’s been shared with me,” said Price. “There’s some there’s some solutions, but at least we need to bring the people in the room, and let’s talk about our solutions and how we can establish a process for helping these families.”

On top of modifying the zoning ordinance to allow for tiny homes, Clare is asking the city to help his non-profit find some land for the homes.

Click HERE for the presentation. You can watch Monday’s meeting HERE.