These unique tiny homes are designed to help pull low-income families out of poverty.

Owning a home is part of the American dream, but for people who are in poverty or were recently homeless, it's often just that: a dream.

Image via CCSS/Vimeo.

The Tiny Homes project in Detroit hopes to change that.

Image via CCSS/Vimeo.


The project was born out of a nonprofit called Cass Community Social Services (CCSS), run by Rev. Faith Fowler, who began thinking about how property is passed down within families after her mother passed away a few years ago.

The goal of the project is to give people with low incomes or who were recently homeless the opportunity to own homes of their own.

"We were looking for a way to help homeless and other low-income people gain an asset," Fowler explained over email.

Image via CCSS/Vimeo.

These tiny homes are unique for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most significant is that while similar tiny-home homeless relief projects have popped up in other locations, Cass Community Tiny Homes is the first to offer properties that are rent-to-own.

This is an important distinction because of the advantages that come from owning property, like building equity and tax deductions. Perhaps the most significant benefit, however, is what owning property can do for a family in the long term. Studies show the main reason children from wealthier families end up doing better financially as adults than children from poorer families comes down to their parents owning more valuable properties in nicer neighborhoods with better schools — homes that they pass down to their kids.

Image via CCSS/Vimeo.

Here's how the rent-to-own plan works: The tiny-home community reaches out through shelters and neighborhood canvassing to find people who are ready to move into a home but can't afford one. There is a review process for prospective tenants that culminates with an interview. Once accepted, tenants start a year lease, paying rent no more than a third of their monthly salary.

The rental price of each unit is $1 per square foot, meaning a 250-square-foot house costs $250 a month to rent. Because the tiny homes are built for energy efficiency, utilities are estimated to be quite low, approximately $35 a month.

A blueprint for one of the tiny homes. Image via CCSS/Vimeo.

After seven years of paying rent, the tiny house becomes the tenant's property. There's just one catch: mandatory attendance at monthly financial coaching and home-ownership classes.

Currently, the Detroit Tiny Homes community has enough property to build 25 single-family homes ranging from 250 to 400 square feet.

The tiny homes share borders with the CCSS campus, so unlike many low-income housing projects, residents live side-by-side, mixed in with the local community rather than separated from it. In fact, some of the tiny houses may eventually be occupied by students and CCSS staff members.

Image via CCSS/Vimeo.

The development is funded entirely by private donations and foundations, including the Ford Motor Fund, the RNR Foundation, and the McGregor Fund.

The best part? There will be 25 different styles of houses — a different design on each lot.

Unlike many shelters, these residences aren't drab or uniform in any way. Each one has a gorgeous facade with lots of details and a unique architectural style.

Image by CCSS/Vimeo.

"We want to instill a sense of pride in the residents," wrote Fowler. "Most people will be coming from situations where everyone had the same bland setting (shelters in particular). We also believe by having so many styles in a concentrated area that others will be drawn to the neighborhood."

So far, over 600 people have applied for the units, and construction of the first six units is underway.

Here's the first tiny house, which was completed on Sept. 6, 2016:

Jim Vella and the Ford Motor Company volunteers helped make today's press conference a booming success.

Posted by Cass Community Social Services on Thursday, September 8, 2016

Because tiny homes can be constructed so quickly and cheaply, CCSS plans to expand the project to accommodate larger families.

According to Fowler, there are many more vacant lots near the original building sites, allowing the project to grow exponentially.

Image via CCSS/Vimeo.

If successful, these tiny housing developments could change everything for low-income families in Detroit. They'll provide an opportunity that wasn't there before: to own property that they can pass down to future generations, giving them a sturdy foundation on which they can rely.

Learn more about CCSS' Tiny Homes project here:

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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