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Initiative aims to help young mothers find housing after homelessness

By Sean Keenan

An elderly widow who’s for years lived in a shed on Atlanta’s Westside is soon to become a “grandmotherly figure” at a new home where young mothers will come to take refuge from life on the streets, according to MicroLife Institute executive director Will Johnston. 

MicroLife, a nonprofit best known for developing tiny home communities, recently teamed up with CHRIS 180, a nonprofit that provides homes for kids aging out of foster care, to start a program that will help mothers experiencing homelessness transition into permanent housing. 

The pilot project entails building a new 1,100-square-foot home on the land that 70-year-old Deborah Glover has owned for years. The property used to have a single-family home, but it was demolished after falling into disrepair, and Glover moved into a shed in the yard with her husband, who passed away a few years ago. 

Johnston said he expects construction to begin at the end of the year or in early 2021. Once it’s complete, the home will provide enough room for Glover and two mothers with children “to have the ability to connect as well as have the privacy needed to heal and grow.”

While the home is built, Glover will live in a hotel, Johnston said. After that, he added, “She’ll be that grandmotherly figure who will assist the young mothers having a hard time transitioning into full-time housing.”

MicroLife and CHRIS 180 connected thanks to the Westside Future Fund, which Johnston said is donating services and materials to the pilot project. He estimates the partnership needs to raise $250,000 to knock out the first project, and they’ve already rounded up $150,000 of that.

It’s unclear what this endeavor could evolve into, but Johnston thinks his organization and others could ultimately develop a network of residences around the city that could help people experiencing homelessness find their permanent homes.

(Header image, via MicroLife Institute: A rendering of the house where Glover and other families will live.)


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