Just a couple of weeks after Branson officials heard one proposal for affordable housing, a second proposal was brought before the Board of Aldermen.
The nonprofit agency Jesus Was Homeless unveiled a plan for a subdivision of small, affordable homes – often called “tiny homes,” – for individuals and couples.
Jesus Was Homeless Executive Director Bryan Stallings said the gated community, called Hope Village, would be located just north of the Jesus Was Homeless facility on Gretna Road and would contain 45 homes on five acres. Each home would be 400 square feet.
“I’m excited about bringing this project to Branson to move people out of extended-stay hotels,” Stallings told the aldermen.
According to Stallings, Hope Village would provide a way to provide permanent and affordable housing to people who were displaced by 2017 flooding, the chronically homeless, those receiving disability assistance or food stamps, and those living below the poverty line.
“We would anticipate keeping the rents, all utilities included, around $400 a month, so it would be very affordable for our friends and neighbors who live in the hotels,” Stallings said.
If everything goes according to plan, construction would start in 2020 with the first homes being completed in 2021.
These would be stick-built homes,” Stallings said. “They would not be pre-fab homes. They would be built from the ground up. The concept would be to have large porches on them, so that we can really develop community there.”
He said each home would have one bedroom, a full kitchen, and a bathroom.
On Tuesday, Stalling was simply asking for initial approval from the board, which was granted with a 5-0 vote (Alderman Kevin McConnell was absent.) With that endorsement, Jesus Was Homeless can now apply for Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery funding (CDBG-DR funding). If that grant is secured, Jesus Was Homeless would then go through the city’s normal planning & zoning process. However, Branson Planning Director Joel Hornickel said his department has reviewed the proposal and that “they are in good shape.”
Hornickel said the location has a lot of advantages.
“One of things we are truly excited about is there is continuous sidewalk from this property to 76, and this property is in very close proximity to a lot of jobs,” Hornickel said. “So if someone wouldn’t have a car, it’s still a location that’s very close to jobs.”
Stallings said the plans also call for some micro businesses to be built in Hope Village, including an auto service shop and an art studio, which will piggy-back with Jesus Was Homeless’ job-training program.
Current plans also call for the development to include a missions bunkhouse that can be rented by church groups.
“We get lots of calls from church groups for a place to stay,” he said.
Last month, the aldermen gave it’s approval to another proposed affordable housing development that would be located on Fall Creek Road, just outside city limits. That development would include housing for families. It is also hoping to secure CDBG-DR funding. City Administrator Stan Dobbins said he expects the aldermen to hear a third proposal for affordable housing in the near future.
The city’s planning commission recently heard a proposal about affordable housing in the Branson Hills area. Dobbins said the project proposed by Jesus Was Homeless project is “a great need” in the community.
Affordable housing has long been a topic of discussion in the Branson area; however, it became a bigger focal point in March when RDG Planning & Design presented the results of a study commissioned by Taney County Partnership that showed a lack of affordable housing for households making less than $25,000 a year.
Mayor Edd Akers said there is a lot of activity from those who want to develop affordable housing.
“It’s been a focal point for us to look at, trying to see what we can do to help and have affordable housing, not just for the folks that are in the extended-stays, but also for folks who are trying to make a living and work in our businesses,” Akers said.