(Photo: Prayer during the dedication of Angela McCray’s new home on Saturday, August 12, 2023, in Lanett, Alabama)
Smaller homes offer path to more affordable home ownership, construction
LANETT, Alabama — At a time when construction costs — along with many other costs of living — are growing faster than working class incomes, many people have opted to find alternatives to traditionally-sized homes,
There are extremes, such as the tiny house movement of recent years in which even those who may be able to afford larger houses have opted to instead live in dwellings of 500 square feet or less. Some do it because they want to live simply, while others may do it for such reasons as the desire to leave less of a footprint upon the Earth.
Often, tiny homes must be constructed outside of city limits and in rural areas where covenants and restrictions may not interfere. On one hand, many cities struggle with the affordable housing crisis, yet they resist allowing tiny houses as possible solutions.
In the city of Lanett — hometown of the late Millard Fuller, founder of The Fuller Center for Housing — The Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project is embracing something in between tiny houses and standard-sized houses.
In 2022, they built two homes in partnership with two seniors who were in dire living situations — Oscar Davis and Theresa Davidson. Their approximately 780-square-foot homes sit next to each other. The beautiful homes each have two bedrooms, one bathroom and a full kitchen. The homes appear cozy from the outside, but their simple interiors feel open and spacious.
This past weekend, they officially welcomed new neighbors who are moving into 768-square-foot homes that comprise The Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project’s first-ever duplex just a few dozen yards away from the two small homes. The homeowner partners for the duple are Angela McCray and Jessica Holmes with daughter Cambrie.
“It was so exciting,” Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project Executive Director Kim Roberts said of the 76th and 77th new homes constructed by the CFCP. “We have two wonderful families going in. We had a lot of volunteers and a lot of donations making it possible. I think it’s going to work out good, and we may try to do it again.”
The donations, in-kind gifts, volunteers and scaled-down size allowed the project to be completed for less than $55,000. That means that the zero-percent-interest mortgage repayments the homeowners make will be far lower that they would have faced with even just slightly larger homes. Roberts noted there is another advantage to these homes:
“With the smaller homes, there’s not as much upkeep,” she said.
The Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project’s next big event is the 2023 Millard Fuller Legacy Build October 8-13 in Opelika, Alabama — a three-home project that will bring their all-time new home tally to 80. It also will be the final project overseen by Roberts, who will be stepping down as executive director and handing over the reins to her long-time assistant Robin Pierre.
Roberts said a full roster of volunteers for the build would be the best parting gift and encourages everyone to register as soon as possible to help with the planning process. To learn more about the Legacy Build or to register, please visit fullercenter.org/legacybuilds.