Last month we authorized the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), our 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor, to use the balance of our funding to build tiny houses for people experiencing homelessness. This funding was originally intended to be used for the construction of Mighty Houses, but the COVID-19 pandemic created huge impediments to making that a reality. While vaccinations have started to become available, circumstances surrounding the coronavirus will continue to be a barrier to Mighty House production for the foreseeable future.
The need for tiny houses remains pressing and is perhaps more urgent than ever, as non-congregate forms of emergency shelter allow for greater social distancing and reduce spread of the coronavirus. Given this critical need, we felt that we could not in good conscience continue to sit on our funding when it could be put to immediate use by others to fulfill our core mission: providing high quality emergency shelter for people living outdoors.
In the final months of 2019 we raised enough money to build five Mighty Houses, and we had ambitious plans to partner with local contractors who would lead build parties with their communities. But as the coronavirus pandemic took hold and as lockdowns were instituted, the social distancing requirements necessary to prevent the spread of the virus made building Mighty Houses close to impossible. We did have some success — a local design build firm called Batt + Lear built a Mighty House with a small crew of carpenters practicing social distancing — but as the pandemic worsened and as businesses continued to suffer the effects of the economic downturn, we were unable to find organizations that could take on a build.
With only one of our five Mighty Houses built, the remainder of our fundraising sat unused for months. But the need for tiny houses only continued to grow, and so we decided our resources needed to be put to use: if not by us, then by others.
It was a difficult decision to release the money that we worked so hard to fundraise, but we did so knowing the that LIHI would be able to put it to immediate use. LIHI and their dedicated volunteers have worked tirelessly over the last year to get people into shelter during the pandemic, and we have seen first hand the incredible work that they are doing. LIHI operates a volunteer-powered tiny house assembly line which pumps out a new tiny house practically every other day.
While we’re saddened that our big Mighty House effort was stymied by the pandemic, we know that in passing our funding on to LIHI, we’re supporting a mission that is very near to our own and dear to our hearts. If you donated to Mighty House in the past, we appreciate all you’ve done to support our efforts and our mission. We hope you’ll understand the circumstances surrounding this decision, and we look forward to connecting with you soon.