THG Blog

Get to Know Andrew Lunetta and A Tiny Home for Good

 Lunetta supporting event hosted by Home Headquarters. Photo courtesy of Home Headquarters.

Lunetta supporting event hosted by Home Headquarters. Photo courtesy of Home Headquarters.

Andrew Lunetta is the founder and Executive Director of A Tiny Home for Good. The son of a special education teacher and human resource worker, the idea of caring for people outside of one’s family and community was ingrained in his DNA. Lunetta lived in Syracuse, New York, in his early childhood before moving to a suburb of Boston, but knew he wanted to come back to the Syracuse area for college. After taking a gap year and completing an AmeriCorps program in Cleveland, Ohio, he enrolled in Le Moyne College. It was there that he first became involved with the homeless community. He began volunteering at a local homeless shelter and was eventually hired as a staff member, working nights while he attended school. After graduating from Le Moyne with a degree in Peace and Global Studies, he completed a Masters in Public Administration from the maxwell School at Syracuse University. His experience at the shelter inspired him to take a stand against homelessness. That drive, combined with the skills he learned at Le Moyne College and Syracuse University, led to the creation of A Tiny Home for Good.     

Lunetta described his time at the shelter, stating, “There were so many experiences where guys would move out of the shelter into the only apartments they could afford in Syracuse, which turned out to be bed bug ridden and have code violations and huge roommate situations. In a matter of months, they would move right back to the shelter. There was this cycle over and over and over, and it just baffled me.”

After talking with the individuals living in the shelter, he learned that all they wanted was a safe and affordable place to call their own. After doing research, Lunetta discovered the abundance of vacant lots in Syracuse. This is where the idea of tiny homes came from. Their small size would allow the organization to build multiple on one lot, as well as make them affordable for the tenants.

However, not everyone was on board with the idea. Some neighborhood residents were opposed to the project; they didn’t want to bring homeless people into the neighborhood. They were worried about the tenants’ behavior, but much of that fear was based on misconceptions. Lunetta explained that the only exposure many people have had with homelessness are people panhandling on the side of the road or through negative news stories. To combat these misconceptions, Lunetta makes sure that the residents get to know their neighbors and stresses property maintenance. Additionally, all potential tenants are recommended from local shelters and churches and have to complete an application. These measures are in place to ensure that dependable tenants move in smoothly and to ensure that A Tiny Home for Good has done its due diligence before providing a home..

A Tiny Home for Good has sparked a great deal of positive change for their tenants as well as in the community. It has brought stability to the nine men currently living in the tiny homes, some of whom, before their tiny home, cannot recall a time they stayed in one place for more than six months. Outside of the residents, the tiny homes also impacted the whole community. As a result of the tiny homes in their neighborhoods, many residents have started to take better care of their own homes. Additionally, A Tiny Home for Good has been able to create connections with large and diverse groups through its volunteer program, which is a vital part of the organization.

At every build site, groups from all over come to work as a team to help construct the tiny homes. Lunetta stated, “Seeing people who may not have had the opportunity to do volunteer work in Syracuse or who may never have met an individual facing homelessness coming and sharing a meal or coming and holding a ladder or giving nails to someone who needs some nails from just totally different environments is such a powerful part of A Tiny Home for Good.” Lunetta is extremely hands-on in the organization and spends about half his day at build sites working with the tenants and volunteers. Above all else, working with the tiny home tenant’s and building those relationships is his favorite part of the organization.

Looking toward the future, Lunetta anticipates more and more tiny homes being built but believes that they are not the ultimate solution. He stated, “It might sound surprising, but I don't necessarily think that building tiny homes all over the city of Syracuse is the answer to end homelessness. However, I do feel strongly that they the answer for a lot of individuals facing homelessness.” A Tiny Home for Good’s impact thus far can be seen through the success of its tenants and the organization’s positive effect on the community. For the time being, Lunetta sees more and more tiny homes popping up in Syracuse.

A Tiny Home for Good is a non-profit that could not function without the help of its donors, volunteers, and tenants. Lunetta expressed his gratitude for their generous donors, dedicated volunteers, and tenants who breathe the life into the organization. Their support allows A Tiny Home for Good to continue its efforts in reducing homelessness through the building of tiny homes with a community-driven approach.

By Annelise Hackett

Bellevue Avenue Ribbon Cutting

This past Friday, A Tiny Home for Good celebrated another ribbon cutting ceremony at Bellevue. Here, we got to display to the public our four new units, that our residents will be moving into very soon. Despite the weather being cold, and rainy, the turn out was unbelievable and A Tiny Home for Good would love to thank everyone that made the day that much more special. Below is a photo of one of the new residents, Dale, who has given unmatched hard work and dedication to help get the units finished. 

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A very special thank you to Syracuse Mayor, Ben Walsh for saying a few inspiring words at the ceremony. Mayor Walsh stated how Syracuse is a city that embodies hope. Syracuse is making a major comeback after the job deficit that occurred. There is a lot of pride in this city that can go unseen sometimes, but bringing awareness, like what A Tiny Home for Good is doing, gives more opportunities to those who may need it. 

Here are some photos of what the tiny houses look like on the inside. Each unit was equipped with beds, bedding, bed side tables, lamps, laundry supplies, toiletries, microwave, coffee pot, kitchen utensils, towels and so much more to get the home owners started off! Thank you to everyone that helped put these awesome houses together!

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Congratulations to Dale for being the ribbon cutting recipient, and congratulations to the other new home owners of Bellevue! 

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Thank you to everyone that has helped throughout this entire project, we could not have succeeded without all of you; there were so many helping hands that made this possible for us. We cannot wait to start the next projects ahead of us, and bring more hope to the city of Syracuse. 

 

Erin Gillingham A Tiny Home for Good Support Staff

The Bellevue Corridor Project: Final Stages

A lot has happened since our last post! All four of our Bellevue units have a finished exterior, the electrical inspection was completed, and the insides are sheet rocked. The hopeful date for our residents to move in will hopefully be around the 3rd week of February! We have all of our residents picked out for these houses, and one awesome, hard-working man, Dale will be living in one of these tiny homes. We are so excited to present the residents and the community, these houses with our red ribbon cutting ceremony. We are so excited to see what is coming up next, and cannot wait to share the journey with all of you! 

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Erin Gillingham A Tiny Home for Good support staff

The Bellevue Corridor Project

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At the beginning of September we broke ground on our largest project to date, the Bellevue Corridor Project. By the end of November, what was a string of vacant lots on Syracuse's Southwest side, will transform into four new homes and a laundry unit for individuals facing homelessness. 

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 Slightly larger than our first five units, the Bellevue Corridor Project homes will be 300 square feet with a couple changes that our current residents have recommended. There will be a small foyer space so that muddy boots and snowy gloves won't end up in the middle of the living room. There will be a larger counter-top in the kitchen space for easier food prep and cooking. And there will be much more space in the bathrooms.

Slightly larger than our first five units, the Bellevue Corridor Project homes will be 300 square feet with a couple changes that our current residents have recommended. There will be a small foyer space so that muddy boots and snowy gloves won't end up in the middle of the living room. There will be a larger counter-top in the kitchen space for easier food prep and cooking. And there will be much more space in the bathrooms.

The homes, located in a flood plain, required that architect, board member, and devoted supporter of THG, Bill Elkins, think outside the box a bit. Instead of a typical basement or concrete slab foundation, we have decided to build on concrete piers and 6" x 6" posts... 

 A big thank you to Maxim Construction Services out of East Syracuse for the quick, competent, and donated work. The team dug the holes, installed the tubes, and poured the concrete for all four homes in about a week.  

A big thank you to Maxim Construction Services out of East Syracuse for the quick, competent, and donated work. The team dug the holes, installed the tubes, and poured the concrete for all four homes in about a week.  

 That right there is about all the lumber needed for the walls of one tiny home. I really pushed the limits of our little truck and it performed like a champ. 

That right there is about all the lumber needed for the walls of one tiny home. I really pushed the limits of our little truck and it performed like a champ. 

 The units all framed up. Once the plumbers and electricians wrap up their work and backfill the pipes and conduit, we can build the floors and get these walls into their permanent home. 

The units all framed up. Once the plumbers and electricians wrap up their work and backfill the pipes and conduit, we can build the floors and get these walls into their permanent home. 

Our work is not possible without the support and tangible help from dozens of people and companies... 

 WHAT a group. Students from SUNY ESF, SUNY Oswego, Le Moyne College, and a couple good friends of the organization, went to town wrapping up framing one home and the laundry facility. They also built a rock wall with all of the concrete that the excavation unearthed. SO MUCH FUN working with these excited groups.  

WHAT a group. Students from SUNY ESF, SUNY Oswego, Le Moyne College, and a couple good friends of the organization, went to town wrapping up framing one home and the laundry facility. They also built a rock wall with all of the concrete that the excavation unearthed. SO MUCH FUN working with these excited groups.  

 Difficult, taxing, could-have-been-demoralizing work. But upbeat vibe of every volunteer from the group above made it fun. Really.

Difficult, taxing, could-have-been-demoralizing work. But upbeat vibe of every volunteer from the group above made it fun. Really.

 And then there is Dale. Dale, a US Army Veteran, long-time member of the Brady Faith Center, and a self-proclaimed (and proven-to-date) jack-of-all-trades, has become a regular volunteer. First to arrive at the site and last to leave, it has seemed to me as if Dale has been a part of THG since we broke ground on our first properties in March of 2016. His work ethic is unmatched. I am so fortunate to be working next to him. Above he is doing the cooking at our monthly Resident's Dinner. 

And then there is Dale. Dale, a US Army Veteran, long-time member of the Brady Faith Center, and a self-proclaimed (and proven-to-date) jack-of-all-trades, has become a regular volunteer. First to arrive at the site and last to leave, it has seemed to me as if Dale has been a part of THG since we broke ground on our first properties in March of 2016. His work ethic is unmatched. I am so fortunate to be working next to him. Above he is doing the cooking at our monthly Resident's Dinner. 

I love the team that I get to work with every single day.

Thanks for reading all. Please get in touch if you or your group would like to get involved as we progress on the Bellevue Corridor Project. 

-Andrew, Director THG