Just weeks before Thanksgiving, two residents have moved into newly built, tiny homes thanks to the work of the Monroe Street Neighborhood Center (MSNC). Located in the Toledo’s Monroe-Auburn area, the tiny homes are adjacent to Monroe United Methodist Church where Rev. Larry Clark serves as pastor and project director of Bluff Street Village.
This once nearly abandoned neighborhood is part of a much larger development project. The completion of the first two homes marks the beginning of what Clark believes will be a revitalization of the neighborhood, eventually leading to eighteen more tiny homes.
The tiny homes are specifically created for persons whose income is less than $18,000 a year. Each home is four hundred square feet or less and is fully accessible. Residents pay rent monthly, build equity and may take ownership of their houses at the end of seven years. They are expected to participate in monthly tenants association meetings, donate ten hours of community service per month, meet monthly with a case worker and attend monthly workshops addressing home maintenance and repair, budgeting, health, and wellness.
“Bluff Street Village is more than just creating housing for low-income people; it is about creating community and bringing life back to the neighborhood,” said Clark.
Organizers have secured grants to purchase and renovate a nearby vacant building into a tool lending library. The library will loan area residents tools for maintaining or improving their homes, gardens, or yards.
The first two homes have been built, in large part through financial and other contributions from church members at Monroe Street and Sylvania First UMC. Although professional contractors were used, volunteers from Maumee UMC and Sylvania United Church of Christ helped.
The Monroe Street UMC’s congregation started the MSNC more than 20 years ago and considers it a vital ministry in the church and community. The Monroe Street Neighborhood Center has a separate 501 (c)(3) from the church and has free use of the church building for office space, senior exercise programs, a food pantry, and Freedom School, a literacy program for students held in the summer. Fifty percent of the MSNC Board are Monroe Street UMC members with the other fifty percent coming from the community.
“Get involved. Use your resources of time, talent, finances and space within the church building to make a difference in the neighborhood,” Clark suggested.