Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo 
                                Tom Kofler helps build the tiny house at Mercer Island United Methodist Church.

Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo Tom Kofler helps build the tiny house at Mercer Island United Methodist Church.

A response to homelessness: United Methodist Church builds a Tiny House for the homeless

The church will build the Tiny House during the month of April.

The homelessness crisis in the Puget Sound region has been years in the making and the roots run deep, but one Mercer Island church is taking action.

During the month of April, the Mercer Island United Methodist Church (MIUMC) will be building a Tiny House to help the homeless. The church raised funds to cover the costs for the project and is currently building under the guidance of contractor Dale Hoff and the direction of Tom and Mary Ann Kofler.

“It’s part of my belief as a Methodist and a Christian that we care for those who are in need,” said church member Carol Mariano. “The society is as good as its weakest member. If we don’t take care of those who are struggling, our society is weaker because of that.”

Mariano said homelessness seems to be a big problem — a growing problem.

In 2018, 12,112 individuals were experiencing homelessness in Seattle/King County and 52 percent of that population was unsheltered. The 2018 count showed a 4-percent increase from 2017.

MIUMC has a history of reaching out to the homeless. In 2008 the church hosted Tent City Three in their parking lot for three months. But with the city’s decision to restrict future homeless camps, Mariano said the church still searched for ways to help those in need.

In December 2018, Mariano heard of the Tiny Home Building Project that was directed by Hoff. Hoff is the project creator and manager of Building Dreams: 12 Tiny Homes for the Homeless in 2018.

Talking about the birth of his project, Hoff said the homeless problem in Seattle was getting overwhelming. Everyone was talking about the housing problem but no one really knew what to do. But Hoff decided to do something about it.

The semi-retired home builder thought hard about what he could do and realized building a tiny home could be the solution.

Hoff set a goal of building one tiny house a month.

“We are helping people who are facing homelessness get off the streets,” Hoff said. “I’m not saying we’re serving the homeless. That kind of implies that they’re the other and they’re always going to be there. But I’m saying no…We’re just dealing with people who lost their job, who got divorced or [maybe] drugs… it could have happened to any of us.”

Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
                                The Mercer Island United Methodist Church is building a tiny house that will be delivered to one of Low Income Housing Institute’s tiny house villages in Seattle.

Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo The Mercer Island United Methodist Church is building a tiny house that will be delivered to one of Low Income Housing Institute’s tiny house villages in Seattle.

Hoff’s tiny homes were all delivered to the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) Tiny House Village sites in Seattle.

In partnership with the city of Seattle, SHARE/WHEEL, Nickelsville and partners throughout the state of Washington, LIHI is now one of the largest providers of Tiny House community shelters in the nation. The Tiny House community shelters ensure that people’s experience in homelessness is safe, dignified and as brief as possible.

With 10 sites in Seattle and a recent one opening in Olympia, the Tiny House program offers great benefits over tents. The tiny homes are safe, weatherproof and lockable. Each tiny house has electricity, overhead light and a heater. Each tiny house village has a kitchen, restroom facilities, onsite showers, laundry, a counseling office and a welcome/security hut where donations of food clothing, and hygiene items can be dropped off.

Each tiny house costs about $2,500 to build, transport and paint. All homes must be 8 feet wide or smaller, under 10 feet tall, and 120 feet squared to be legal structures. Two windows minimum is preferred.

Under Hoff’s direction, the MIUMC hopes to learn how to build a tiny house and possibly more in the future.

Mercer Island residents can stop by the church to see progress on the building project as volunteers work to bring it to completion.

To donate toward the project, make a check out to Mercer Island United Methodist Church, with “Tiny House Project” in the memo.

MIUMC is located on 7070 SE 24th St., Mercer Island.

Those who wish to donate can write out a check to the Mercer Island United Methodist Church with “Tiny House Project” written in the memo. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo.

Those who wish to donate can write out a check to the Mercer Island United Methodist Church with “Tiny House Project” written in the memo. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo.

The United Methodist is building a Tiny House for the homeless during the month of April. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo.

The United Methodist is building a Tiny House for the homeless during the month of April. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo.

MIUMC members raised funds to buy supplies for the tiny house. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo.

MIUMC members raised funds to buy supplies for the tiny house. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo.

More in Life

Ready or not, college is arriving | Guest article

How parents can help their students embark on a college career.

Leaving for college anxiety | Dear YFS

A monthly advice column about issues faced by Islanders.

SeaJAM, which kicks off the SJCC Arts + Ideas 2019–2020 season, will present “An Evening with Debra Messing” on Saturday, September 14, at Benaroya Hall’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall. Courtesy photo
SJCC prepares for second annual SeaJAM

SeaJAM will present “An evening with Debra Messing” on Sept. 14.

Photo courtesy of Greg Asimakoupoulos
                                A plaque commemorating the date the Asimakoupoulos family changed its name.
A summer to remember | On Faith

A monthly column dealing in faith.

Stephanie Quiroz/staff photos
                                Covenant Living at the Shores residents and staff with Ageless Aviation pilot and team at the Renton Municipal Airport on Aug. 12.
Covenant Living at the Shores Residents take flight

Tom Norris, Sid Boegl, Doug Wilkinson, and Jack Nelson take flight in a 1942 Boeing Stearman.

Author Claire Gebben gives blacksmithing a go at Bruce Weakly’s private shop on Whidbey Island. Gebben sought to learn the art of blacksmithing to better understand the life of her great-great grandfather, who immigrated to Cleveland in the mid-1800s. Photo courtesy of Claire Gebben
Island author Gebben’s work named Indie Book Awards finalist

“How We Survive Here: Families Across Time” reveals genealogical journey.

Mike Woodsum of the Mountain to Sound Greenway Trust is the featured speaker for the Mercer Island Probus Club July meeting on Thursday, July 11. Courtesy photo
Greenway speaker at July 11 Probus Club meeting

Meeting date has changed for July; location has changed for summer meetings.

Celebrating the Fourth on the Eastside

Americans all over the country including the Eastside region will gather on… Continue reading

This willow tree had recently fallen and was only a stump. Now new life has grown where all hope had seemed lost. Photo by Greg Asimakoupoulos
Lessons from the resurrection tree

Finding hope in times of loss | On Faith

Most Read