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Affordable housing project in Columbia offers tiny homes

Some nonprofits in Columbia have teamed up to create more sustainable and affordable housing.
KMIZ / File
Some nonprofits in Columbia have teamed up to create more sustainable and affordable housing.


Missouri is in the middle of an affordable housing crisis. According to Empower Missouri, 72% of very low income households in the state are housing cost burdened.

There was an open house walking tour in Columbia on Sunday for residents to tour accessory dwelling units (ADU).

An ADU is a "smaller residence that can be attached to, detached from or built within a primary residence," according to the event sponsors.

The units can be detached or attached to a primary house. They can be built out of a basement, garage conversion, or even an attic conversion. They are smaller in size than the principal dwelling unit on a property, according to Adrenne Stolwyk, the owner of Monarch Architecture.

The units toured were located in Columbia and were all within a walkable distance from one another. According to Scott Claybrook, Arise Dwellings founder, the tours are meant for people to see the possibility of the more affordable living opportunities that ADUs have to offer.

"It's kind of hard to imagine creating little dwellings on your property unless you can see it in function," said Claybrook. "And so we wanted to open up a number of different expressions."

Some of the dwellings are rentals, some are mother-in-law suites and others are offices. Claybrook describes them as viable resources for some of Columbia's community problems.

Stolwyk explains that accessory dwelling units and pocket neighborhoods are one way to create affordable housing using the infrastructure that Columbia already has.

"The tour is a way of highlighting some of the new development patterns that are sprouting up in Columbia and the accessory dwelling units in particular are responding to an ordinance that was created in 2014 that allows them," said Stolwyk.

She further explains that ADUs were not explicitly allowed in Columbia before.

According to Stolwyk, ADUs generally translate to lower rent and lower costs of energy consumption. She explained that one of the ADUs on the tour had a 6-kilowatt solar array on the roof. That solar array contributes towards the units' affordability.

Mikki Philippe has lived in her tiny home for nearly a year and describes it as "the perfect way to learn a lot about yourself and your habits." Phillippe said she has wanted to live in a tiny home since she was in middle school.

"I think the main attraction for me is just living simply and taking care of what you do have because you don't need more stuff," said Philippe.

She found the property online when looking for places to rent and then booked a tour. She says she signed the lease that day.

Philippe says that while she loves her tiny home, or pocket house, it isn't for everybody.

"For me personally living in a tiny home as one person is wonderful and works really well. I could not imagine living in this house with another person and their stuff," Philippe said.

Phillippe says that while looking at apartments in Downtown Columbia, she fell in love with her current home because she had amenities like parking and a washer and drying unit.

More information regarding this project can be found here.

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Grace Pankey


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