SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced progress on tiny homes being built for homeless Utahns as part of her goal to have a tiny home village in place this winter.

Thursday, during a press conference, Mayor Mendenhall announced the formation of a partnership with The Other Side Academy to create the village. 

The Other Side Village will be a pilot for a tiny home model of homeless services in Salt Lake City and will focus on serving people experiencing chronic homelessness. 

She says the city needs to think creatively to help house our homeless residents and assist in their challenges. 

“This is a huge step forward in this project. We’re moving at light-speed here, given the scope and urgency of the challenge, and I think that’s a testament to the commitment of the City and our partners to confront the reality of this issue,” Mayor Mendenhall shares during Thursday’s conference. “In The Other Side Academy, we have a partner that is devoted to the success and empowerment of its current students. They have a proven track record of successfully managing a peer-based community while being an asset to their neighborhood and this City. And I know that devotion and passion for success will carry over into their work on The Other Side Village.”

Mayor Mendenhall says the key for this project to be successful is not the physical structure of having tiny homes, but the social system. 

Joseph Grenny, Chair and Founder of The Other Side Academy, says “The most important part is to create an environment, socially and physically, that facilitates connection with others. Homelessness is the result of a catastrophic loss of family. So the solution must be to build a new family. The second most important part is establishing a community with strong social norms. This is what brings out the best in all of us. These strong norms will invite all to strive to achieve their potential, allowing them the dignity of being part of the solution, not just an issue to be solved.”

The Other Side Village will be an addition to the resources already in place for people experiencing homelessness in Salt Lake City. 

“Mayor Mendenhall’s tiny home initiative is an important option for individuals experiencing homelessness to connect with a community and much-needed services. It’s also an investment in deeply affordable housing development, a key component in making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring,” said Laurie Hopkins, Executive Director of Shelter the Homeless.

City officials say the announcement of the tiny homes is the first in a series of benchmarks that the City and its partners aim to meet this year in order to have The Other Side Village up and running this winter.

“The goal in my 2021 plan was to have tiny homes in place by this upcoming winter. Getting an operator and manager on board as a partner was one of the biggest milestones to meeting that goal, so I’m pleased to have reached this place so quickly,” Mayor Mendenhall shares. “Really, without a service management partner, as optimistic about the concept as we are, a tiny home community would be impossible.”