06/08 Tiny homes become big topic at housing summit

tiny house in Canton, MO

The 510-square-foot tiny house stands outside Canton City Hall on Wednesday. The house was a main topic of interest at the annual Tri-State Housing Summit. Doug Hutson of D&M Hutson Contracting of Cuba, Mo., built the house with the original purpose of selling to senior citizens who wanted to downsize. Photo by Michael Kipley

The “tiny home” movement that’s been commanding so much attention nationally became an extra-large topic of conversation Wednesday at this year’s Tri-State Housing Summit in Canton [Missouri].

Many of the speakers during the 2 1/2-hour event on the Culver-Stockton College campus referred to the small, affordable, energy-efficient homes as a possible solution to help meet communities’ housing needs.

The topic received some extra buzz because a newly built model of a tiny home — only 510 square feet in size — was trucked to Canton and displayed this week outside City Hall. Just about all the 80 people attending the summit toured the house at some point during the day.

“We wanted to have a real model on hand for people to see,” explained Alicia Lopez, a homeownership specialist for the North East Community Action Corp., which played a role in organizing the 14th annual Tri-State Housing Summit.

Lopez was one of the workers stationed at the tiny home to give tours and answer questions. She said tiny homes will appeal to certain people looking for an affordable and cozy place to live.

“This is perfect for a first-time starter — a single person or even a married couple,” she said. “It’s like a little condo.”

Canton Mayor Jarrod Phillips, who welcomed conference-goers to the summit, told The Herald-Whig he was excited to have the tiny house displayed in Canton so people can see for themselves how such structures could help meet local housing needs.

“We’ve identified housing and homeownership as a definite issue here in Canton,” he said. “Rental property can be hard to come by, and affordable, quality homes are hard to come by, too. So this just kind of fit in.”

Phillips said Canton has many small lots that are going unused because they are too small for conventional-sized houses. Tiny homes “could maybe give a new lease on life for those smaller lots,” he said. “It’s definitely an option that I hope other Tri-State communities will come in and look at.”

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Elaine Walker