Rain delayed the start of a grassroots effort to build a tiny house for the homeless in downtown Charleston, but the weather was not the only hurdle.
Tiny House Fit for a King, a Facebook movement, was encouraging people to help build a tiny house over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend. Though construction was set to begin after the skies cleared on Friday, organizers learned no one will move into the new, one room house.
Even so, the organizer is passionate about seeing the project through.
“There are 300 people sleeping in the rain right now,” said William Hamilton, pointing toward the tent city. Hamilton is a lawyer who believes tiny houses are an answer for many people who call Charleston’s tent city home.
People who live under the bridge off Meeting Street don’t have many options.
Jerry Lee Tobus, who is building the tiny house, described growing rent prices, “$1,500 a month, $2,000 a month, now the gentlemen, ladies for that matter working for minimum wage, how do you afford that?”
In cities across the country, tiny house communities with one room houses near a shared shower and restroom facility are serving as alternatives to homeless shelters.
“I choose the 40-degree box over the big crowded room,” Hamilton said. A tiny house community, he said, would fit in that part of Charleston, which is growing with young investors and high tech development.
“The new Charleston is going take places like this, people like this, stuff like that and turn it into the future,” Hamilton said as he pointed toward the tent city.
Despite a warning from the Department of Transportation not to build on their property under the bridge, Hamilton pushed forward. Hours before the project was to hammer the first nail, Charleston’s new mayor stepped in with a solution: on city-owned Nassau Street property, a model tiny home is going up. People are pitching in materials.
"Right now a lot of citizens are donating and a lot of churches,” Tobus said.
Hamilton isn’t giving up on the idea of more permanent housing.
“I promise you if Charleston Planning and people who sleep under these bridges get together, there’s nothing this city cannot do,” he said.
On Tuesday, the newly-built tiny house will be handed over to the city and moved away. The new mayor has planned a citizens committee which will work toward finding a solution for the homeless in Charleston.