THG Blog

Bellevue Ribbon Cutting

Deputy Mayor of Syracuse, Sharon Owens, cutting the “ribbon” on our most recent two homes on Bellevue Ave.

Deputy Mayor of Syracuse, Sharon Owens, cutting the “ribbon” on our most recent two homes on Bellevue Ave.

With an all hands on deck attitude and quick work from our sub contractors, our two new houses on Bellevue were prepared for our little ribbon cutting event on Friday the 21st. And despite weather reports threatening a one hundred percent chance of rain, the end of December weather we were afforded was almost surreal. Pushing 70 and nothing but sun…

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Board member and long-time volunteer Bob Dougherty kicked off the event with lots of thank yous… He shared about the incredible contribution from Syracuse Model Neighborhood Corporation, the generous and committed housing organization that donated us the vacant land almost two years ago. He thanked the city and county agencies that supported our work from day one. And he gave a shout out to the hundreds of volunteers who had a hand in this project. He especially recognized our long-time volunteers, Teresa, Sean, Brian, and Dale. The groups are essential, but it is the work, day in and day out, from our everyday volunteers that has allowed each and every unit we’ve wrapped up, so far, possible.

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Next up was Executive Director Andrew Lunetta. Andrew shared about the “Snow Haven,” the aptly named unit upon which we held the Ribbon Cutting. A year ago, the Snowman family, moved by our mission, contacted Andrew to share that they wanted to donate a home in memory of their late husband and father, Larry Snowman. A lifelong lover of snow, the family thought “Snow Haven” would be a perfect name for the new unit. Certainly is. You can read about Larry in our most recent newsletter here.

Besides a pop of color, the “Snow Haven” also provided us with our first foray into solar power. The story of how solar at the “Snow Haven” came to be is a long one, but a good one. It too can be found in our most recent newsletter. Andrew took the opportunity of the ribbon cutting to share the story and thank the four middle school students who did not take “no” for an answer and raised all the money necessary to power the “Snow Haven” from the sun.

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Finally, Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens gave her remarks. She shared about her experience moderating a community meeting when we first entered the scene, trying to find property to build our first houses on. The meeting was difficult with lots of push back that left many of us questioning if A Tiny Home for Good would even be possible. Despite a number of difficult meetings and conversations, we eventually found property. We eventually wrapped up our first two homes. And we eventually wrapped up our tenth and eleventh home. She expressed her appreciation that we didn’t call it quits before we even began.

Living space in the “Snow Haven”

Living space in the “Snow Haven”

Kitchen space…

Kitchen space…

Cozy, but not too cozy, of a bathroom…

Cozy, but not too cozy, of a bathroom…

It took the hands on support of hundreds of volunteers and the resources of a dozens of very special individuals and groups to make these homes come together. We are proud to share the finished product. But really cannot wait to welcome our two new tenants to their units in early January. Lots more to come, but thrilled to have wrapped up these two homes.

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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