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New Path Villages aims to create a community for those without one – WDET

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The Detroit nonprofit offers temporary housing in a residential area with access to a church, community gardens and vocational programs.
Renderings of the New Path Villages.
On Detroit’s East Side, New Path Villages is building a tiny community. The nonprofit aims to be the bridge between homelessness and conventional housing.
Seeing a need that needed to be filled, Mike Willenborg and Danielle Kaltz got together and began the work. Willenborg spoke with CultureShift about his vision for the organization.
“What we are hoping to build is a village of tiny homes for people who have been on the streets and have been experiencing homelessness. This is an emergency shelter as opposed to permanent housing,” Willenborg explains.
The 10-15 home community will resemble a large dormitory, and is situated in a neighborhood instead of an industrial or commercial area of the city. Residents will have their own address and a door that locks, giving them the ability to obtain ID and gain a sense of security.
New Path purchased city land bank property, including a school and a church nearby. The neighborhood will feature community gardens, shared cooking spaces and vocational programs like woodworking, computer engineering and culinary training.
Willenborg stresses that while the housing is designed to be temporary, there is no time limit on how long people can stay and utilize these resources.
“They can stay two months, they can stay two years, it really depends on the individual and how well they acclimatize and get ready to move on. As I say, we’re the very first step from the street, off the street, into another life again.”
Unlike other housing of this sort, New Path has a low barrier of entry.
“We meet people where they are as opposed to saying, ‘You can’t stay here because you have A, B or C type of an issue.’”
New Path Villages hopes to break ground sometime this fall.
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Tia Graham is a reporter and Weekend Edition Host for 101.9 WDET. She graduated from Michigan State University where she had the unique privilege of covering former President Barack Obama and his trip to Lansing in 2014.
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