CHERRYFIELD — Downeast Community Partners, along with the Maine Seacoast Mission, the CF Adams Foundation and a Massachusetts high school, recently announced the construction of a tiny house for a formerly homeless Washington County military veteran.
“DCP has had a program to serve homeless veterans, currently has a program to provide housing to veterans, and employs several veterans, so this project has a strong personal connection for us,” said DCP Housing Director Bobbi Ann Harris at a June 10 press conference announcing the “Downeast Tiny House Project.”
The tiny house — 560 square feet in total — was designed by Islesford-based architect Jeri D.W. Spurling of Spurling Design.
DCP and the Maine Seacoast Mission had previously worked together and with other volunteers weatherizing and rehabilitating rural houses. That’s where they connected with students from Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Marlborough, Mass.
“We have a program here called Learn and Serve where we take students out to do community service, that’s how we got connected with Seacoast Mission about seven or eight years ago,” said Bill Italiano, lead carpentry teacher at the high school. “We were working on someone else’s place and it was in pretty rough shape, so kind of off the cuff I said I should build a new house in my shop. And now about three or four years later it’s coming to fruition.”
The house, everything inside and out, is being built by freshmen and sophomore students at the high school. With those students now on summer vacation from school, the house is expected to be completed and delivered to Maine in October.
“We went up this spring to Cherryfield and put on a community meal and were fortunate enough to meet the person who will be living there,” Italiano said. “It’s been a wonderful project so far, a great opportunity for the students.”
The veteran who will be moving into the tiny house in a few months has asked to remain anonymous, but is helping to finance the project.
“We really wanted to do it for a veteran,” said Harris, herself a 22-year retired Navy veteran. “We had someone who came to our attention through another gentleman, who was 90 percent disabled and homeless at the time.”
According to data from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, in January 2018 there were estimated to be 119 homeless veterans in Maine. Rural Washington County has one of the highest percentages of homeless veterans across the state.
According to Harris, the goal for DCP and its partners is to eventually construct other tiny houses for military veterans and area senior citizens.
“If this is successful, we’re planning to build two more tiny homes in the area,” Harris said.
Progress on the tiny house can be seen at the Downeast Maine Tiny House Project blog at www.downeastmainetinyhouseproject.com.