'Somewhere safe': Mental health center creating 'tiny home' community in east Macon

    River Edge Behavioral Health is hoping to turn an empty lot in east Macon into a space for tiny houses serving the homeless/Katie Thurber (WGXA)

    MACON, Ga. -- One mental health and addiction recovery center in Macon is hoping to turn an empty lot in east Macon into a space for tiny houses serving the homeless.

    The lot on Maynard St. doesn't look like much now, but for people like Michelle Chamber, it could soon look like hope.

    “Macon’s become a rough place for people like me," said Chambers.

    Chambers said she’s been in Macon a year and a half, homeless, staying wherever she can and spending her days at Daybreak.

    “To be able to feel alive again would be nice," she said.

    For Chambers, that simply means feeling safe - something Cass Hatcher hopes to provide to people experiencing homelessness with five ‘tiny’ houses on Maynard St.

    “It’ll be a real good start for people who are coming from under a bridge or living in their car who need somewhere to put a roof over their head somewhere they can call home," said Hatcher.

    Hatcher said each house would have its own bedroom, bathroom, living area and kitchen. The people living in them would have access to the resources from River Edge Behavioral Health. They’d also be part of their own community.

    “To have a successful recovery you need to have somewhere to stay. It’s hard to recover from any addiction or any mental health issues if you’re living under a bridge or you’re living in a car, so having a roof over your head is part of the recovery system so you can feel that you got somewhere safe to lay your head down. No ones’ going to bother you," Hatcher said.

    This safety is something Chambers thinks about a lot.

    “To have the rape victim feel safe. Or to have somebody just coming out of rehab not feel so hopeless, like I did," she said.

    Chambers said she hopes that when she’s in a better place, she can help other people going through what she’s been through.

    “I don’t want to anybody to experience what I have. I know they will, but I’d love to be able to at least help one person like me," she said.

    Hatcher says the Department of Housing and Urban Development is funding the tiny homes and that rent would be covered by a grant. He expects the groundbreaking on the houses to be in winter of this year and the homes to be complete in spring of 2019.

    Hatcher said to be considered for the tiny homes program, people have to be documented by the Salvation Army’s Coordinated Entry program and have some kind of mental disability.

    Part of east Macon could look very different in a few months. New tonight, we’re learning how one organization wants to transform a neighborhood and give people experiencing homelessness a safe place to stay at the same time.

    The Salvation Army is located at 1925 Broadway in Macon. Call them at (478) 746-8572 for more information about its Coordinated Entry program.

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