Next spring, on a 3-acre strip of land near the intersection of two Dallas highways, just south of the Deep Ellum neighborhood, Keith Ackerman will help kick off a radical experiment in helping the city’s homeless population.
The Cottages at Hickory Crossing development, which will consist of 50 tiny homes measuring 400 square feet each, looks and sounds like a miniature subdivision – exactly what Ackerman, the executive director, aims to create. But there’s a lot more to it than placing cute buildings and manicured lawns near a crook of land between I-30 and I-45.
The former social worker and therapist sees this project, a collaboration between area nonprofits, as a socially, morally and financially sound investment. By creating a model community that offers round-the-clock, on-site care to the neediest of the city’s homeless population, many of whom struggle with drug addiction and mental health issues, it’ll provide space to recover and thrive, all while saving the city a considerable amount of money. An area of town once known as a “shooter’s gallery” for heroin users may become a model for helping some of those addicts recover.
“By putting people into a housing environment where they have case management support, they will no longer resort to county services at the same volume,” says Ackerman. “We’ve done a case study that shows it’s going to cost less. The goal—and I don’t mean to sound morbid—is for people to be able to die at home, to give them a place to live so their last chapter is much better than the previous few.”
When Hickory Crossing opens in a few months, each resident will have their own cottage.
Can you imagine how much easier and faster this community and others like it all over the US could be by going modular. Hey, attention factory owners with low production over the Winter. This could be a golden opportunity waiting to happen.