Rock Hill, SC - A new approach to a long-standing and growing problem: the homeless in Rock Hill, a struggling portion of the population, has nearly doubled in the last year.
But one local organization, known as Renew Our Community, boasts it may have come up with a viable solution.
In recent months, it's founder, Dale Dove, has begun building a plan he believes will not only put roofs over the heads of a number of those living homeless in the city, but will do so in a responsible, affordable way.
Stephanie Sharp has been living on the streets of Rock Hill, couch surfing and bouncing from shelter to shelter, for the past 11 months.
"My husband was living out on the streets with me a little bit but it was a little scary and a lot cold and stuff,” said Sharp.
To combat the loneliness, Sharp spends a lot of her time at Renew Our Community. Dove’s latest idea would help people, like Sharp. It involves the construction of several tiny house.
“Instead of spending more than 50 percent of their net income on a place to live, what if they only spent 15-20 percent on it?"
These houses, measuring just 120 square feet, would make that possible. But Dove's idea has hit a snag.
"It's the very government rules that are put in place to protect the community, to have a great place to live, to protect property values and those things that are actually being a stumbling block to group like ROC and other groups that are trying to come in and have solutions to help people,” said Dove.
The stumbling block Dove's talking about involves a zoning law in Rock Hill that prohibits homes less than 800 square feet from being built. And with the cheapest homes costing anywhere from $100 a square foot, Dove says it's a rule that fails to take those who make minimum wage into account.
“A person making minimum wage will never be able to afford a $100,000 house,” said Dove. “And even if they could, they can't pay the $200 power bill that's going to go along with that house.”
Which means until the imposed law changes, people like Sharp will have to continue looking for any place they can to lay their head at night, even if it means on a mattress underneath railroad tracks. It's a grim reality. But Sharp says if it weren't for organizations like ROC, it would too much to bear.
"They really do care and they lend as much of a helping hand as they can,” said Sharp.
ROC is encouraging citizens in Rock Hill to reach out to members of city council and encourage them to alter the current zoning law in order to eventually make these tiny homes available to people in need.
To help ROC in its efforts visit http://renewoc.org/?page_id=502