XDS’s Farm at Penny Lane get $1 million grant to fulfill dream of providing independent housing for those with mental illness


For those privileged enough to avoid them, poverty and mental illness can seem invisible. The relationship between the two is tenuous and cyclical; according to the WHO, over 50% of homeless people have some form of mental illness. For people trapped in this cycle, it can be difficult or impossible to break out.

In Chatham County, 12% of the population live in poverty. With all the different socioeconomic factors that drive people into this position, the solution isn’t always obvious. Thankfully there are some great local organizations helping to figure it out, and Bold Construction is thrilled to partner with them.

You may have seen pictures of “tiny houses,” cute little homes that focus on minimalism and sustainability. They are the darling of Pinterest and Facebook posts alike, but have a deeper goal than just likes. Tiny houses are a surprisingly fun solution to the problem of rising home costs.

Inspired by a similar project in Eugene, Oregon, Chatham Habitat for Humanity and the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health are bringing tiny houses to the homeless.

The Farm at Penny Lane is a 40-acre development of these tiny houses, each one renting for $250 a month to people with mental illnesses. Many of these people live on small government benefits, and cannot keep up with the escalating cost of the Triangle.

Bold Construction is proud to construct the project’s first unit, a 336-square foot unit that serves as the project’s “pilot house.” We expect to complete it sometime in April. The project is in its early stages, but the pilot house serves as an important proof of concept. Upon completion, some test clients will take turns living in it to give design feedback. After feedback and design changes, nine more houses will follow its example.

In the future the development will have a bus stop and an office for an Assertive Community Treatment Team, a team of doctors, nurses, and mental health professionals. These staff will be on premises but not living with the tenants, giving them independence and responsible care.

Macon County commissioner Ronnie Beale – also a member of governor McCrory’s mental health task force – thinks the solution is an appropriate start. He emphasized the importance of a job, shelter and a “buddy” to help with mental health recovery. The Farm at Penny Lane is a first step.


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We are very excited to build a tiny home for The Farm at Penny Lane with Chatham Habitat and XDS!  The work will take place at this year’s Chatham County Fair!  This article in the Chatham Post explains this wonderful project:

Chapel Hill, Chatham County — Opportunity Village in Eugene, Oregon has become a place where lives are transformed. In this planned village, homeless people get a house, a community, and a chance to get their lives back.

Opened in 2013, the project is a collaboration between multiple partners to create a secure, comfortable place that homeless people can call home. The micro homes range from 60 to 80 square feet and residents share cooking, gathering, restroom, and laundry facilities.

When Thava Mahadevan learned about Opportunity Village, he got a vision for a similar type of transformational project in Chatham County.

As the executive director of Cross Disability Services, or XDS, a local nonprofit that offers support services and treatment to individuals with disabilities and mental illness, Mahadevan believes that tiny homes might offer a solution for homelessness.

With housing costs continually on the rise in the Triangle, Mahadevan says that there is a huge hunger for affordable housing. These rising costs have forced some people to seek alternative housing such sleeping in storage sheds or even camping in the woods. Mahadevan wants to provide these people with a better, safer, low cost housing alternative.

As a first step towards fulfilling his vision for the area’s homeless population, XDS will build a 336 square foot model home next month at the Chatham County Fair. The house will be a partnership between XDS, Chapel Hill’s Bold Construction who will provide the labor, and Chatham Habitat for Humanity who will fund the project.

The house is designed for individuals who struggle with some form of mental disability or illness. The $38,000 home should only take a few days to finish. Once completed, it will be transported to XDS’ Chatham County headquarters.

To read the original article, visit the Indy Weekly.

 Jamie Garrett via Chatham Post