County to Join Forces With Not-For-Profit to Build Tiny Homes City to Join Force With Non-For-Profit to Build Tiny Homes

Construction and permitting for two of the homes is already underway.

That’s Andrew speaking with one of the most dedicated volunteers, Brady.

“A year and a half ago he was a stray, all skin and bones, and he just ran up on and I started feeding him and he wouldn’t leave me alone so I ended up keeping him”

Brady’s just another part of the operation. An operation that’s Andrew has been there for every step of.

“I had very limited experience building coming into it. I had done painting projects and very light framing but so much of it was learning on the job, learning through YouTube asking people who knew more than me, coming in very humble.”

The build at 215 Slocum Avenue is destined to be a three-unit dwelling with laundry included for all the inhabitants to use. Lunetta explained that the units are small by design, but still have everything someone needs to live.

Lunetta has been involved locally with homelessness ever since he was an underclassman at LeMoyne, volunteering his time at the Oxford Street Inn.

“And then when I was a sophomore at LeMoyne they hired me on staff there so I was working three or four nights a week at the homeless shelter, and that’s where I started developing a real interest and love in what I’m doing today.”

He says that working with people who face homelessness has always been comfortable for him.

“It just felt right. Like I would go down to the shelter and spend hours talking with the guys there, and I felt way more confident talking with those guys than I ever did at a party in college or anything like that.”

He also said that it didn’t take long for him to notice a recurring theme in the shelter that he worked at.

“All of it was around that experience working at the shelter, and seeing the same guys cycle in and out of the shelter on an almost monthly basis. They move out of the shelter more into a terrible apartment and then in a matter of months or weeks move back to the shelter, and everyone just described that all they wanted was a small space and their own space and I felt that a tiny home kind of fit that bill.”

People that he was close with and people that understood the problem in depth bought into the idea instantly.

“Like they knew that affordable safe housing was the answer to ending homelessness. But when you kind of opened it up and looked at how you tangibly do it, there were a lot of roadblocks.”

He said he didn’t really anticipate how much of the construction he’d end up doing himself. From drilling to cutting drywall, to simply being on site to oversee the operations, Andrew works tireless with the volunteers and spends the majority of his own time at work on site.

“Like there’s no way I would have been able to start a restaurant, I don’t know shit about cooking or anything and people would recognize that right away. But I knew a lot about homelessness and I knew the answer on how to end it for a lot of people. And people saw that and people believed that.”

His work has caught the attention of many locally, including County Executive Ryan McMahon

“Yeah, it’s just nice to see the county recognize that it’s an answer to end homelessness. Because really, they’re footing the bill of the shelters and a lot of the people having to stay in hotels if the shelters are full.”

With at least seven new dwellings set to open up this year in Syracuse, Lunetta is excited for the future of A Tiny Home for Good.

“Hey we have some of the nicest houses on the block now, they’re well maintained, they’re raising property values around them.”

With 2020 marking the fifth year since Tiny Homes opened their doors, Lunetta hopes to keep opening more doors, all across the city.

Luca Serio, NCC News.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — By the end of 2019, A Tiny Home For Good plans to build more than twenty tiny homes inside of Syracuse’s city limits. Founded in 2015 by current Executive Director Andrew Lunetta, the organization has grown into a force fighting against homelessness in the Salt City.

“When I look at our houses, I look at how long some of our residents have been there and 2.5 years, it’s not a long time but for guys facing homelessness it’s an incredibly long time,” Lunetta said. “So every day that there’s more and more stability, more and more consistency, it just gets better and better.”

Initially Lunetta was involved with every step of the process, from coordinating with contractors, plumbers, and electricians, to the painting, roofing, and dry-wall, and to this day, still is. However, before founding A Tiny Home, he didn’t know much about construction.

“I had very limited experience building coming into it,” Lunetta said. “I had done painting projects and very light framing but so much of it was learning on the job, learning through YouTube asking people who knew more than me, coming in very humble.”

The house built at 215 Slocum Avenue will be turned into three single person living spaces equipped with laundry for all residents to use.
© 2019 Luca Serio

What he didn’t know about building, he supplemented with his in-depth knowledge of homelessness in Syracuse. He started volunteering his time at the Oxford Street Inn when he was an undergrad at Le Moyne College and was offered a full-time spot staff on as a sophomore. He says that speaking with people who face homelessness was comfortable for him.

While Lunetta was in graduate school at Syracuse University, the idea behind A Tiny Home For Good began to solidify. Four years later, what was once an idea has grown into an organization that’s attracted the attention of many, including the county government. Earlier this month, County Executive Ryan McMahon revealed that Onondaga County will be giving a grant to A Tiny Home For Good to build seven new houses in Syracuse.

Lunetta said that from the county’s perspective, tiny homes makes sense.

“Yeah, it’s just nice to see the county recognize that it’s an answer to end homelessness,” Lunetta said. “Because really, they’re footing the bill of the shelters and a lot of the people having to stay in hotels if the shelters are full.”

Permitting and construction have already started on two of the seven new houses.

Reported by

Luca Serio

Luca Serio is a sophomore at Syracuse University who hails from Portland, Maine. He's a resident advisor on campus and is the captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team. He's currently pursuing an education in Broadcast and Digital Journalism.

Other stories by Luca Serio

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