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3 more tiny homes for homeless veterans built in Syracuse

Three more tiny homes for homeless veterans have been built on Syracuse’s south side. The nonprofit, A Tiny Home for Good, finished their first two homes earlier this year.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony was Dolphus Johnson, who has been volunteering to help build these new tiny homes. He was also one of the nonprofit's first residents and has been living in a tiny home for about three to four months now.  

“Very excellent, respectful,” Johnson said. “The neighbors are respectful.”

The neighbors were just one concern of Andrew Lunetta, the executive director of A Tiny Home for Good. The nonprofit has been fighting to make this dream a reality since 2014.

“Neighbors really weren’t happy about our idea,” Lunetta said. “It just came down to the stigma that surrounds homelessness.”

Despite that stigma, Lunetta said the first two residents of tiny homes have been transitioning well.

"It's almost storybook, one of the guys got a job up at the VA hospital two weeks after moving in," Lunetta said. "It's just cool to see how positive a foundation is for someone."

Lunetta said he worked for years in homeless shelters and frequently saw people move out and in a matter of months, move back in.

“Because the places they moved into were too expensive or just unsafe, really didn’t provide any sort of positive foundation," Lunetta said. "I thought there was so much vacant land and I fell in love with the tiny home movement and put the two together. I think what we're doing here is different and special. No more building happens in the south side of Syracuse and often those who are facing homelessness are totally forgotten.”

The nonprofit received a lot of help from corporations such as construction company Hayner Hoyt, who engaged subcontractors to provide free to low cost labor and materials. Seven more units are expected to be built in the spring on Syracuse’s south side and more on the near west side could open next fall. They will be open to not just veterans but anyone who is homeless.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.