‘Out of the cycle of poverty, permanently’: Colorado Springs ‘tiny home’ community opens for at-risk young adults

Dan Boyce/CPR News
Working Fusion CEO Shelley Jensen stands with the first two of 18 tiny homes that will soon populate her organization’s property near downtown Colorado Springs. The homes will house 18- to 25-year-olds otherwise at risk for homelessness.

A new community of “tiny homes" near downtown Colorado Springs is set to receive its first residents this weekend – 18- to 25-year-olds otherwise at risk of homelessness. 

Four of the 240 square-foot homes have already been delivered to the community, named Working Fusion at Mill Street. In total, 18 homes, all constructed locally, are ultimately planned for the site. The compact buildings manage to fit a kitchen, bathroom, full-sized bed, and lofted storage space as well as a washer and dryer in each unit.

In 2019, Colorado Springs resident Shelley Jensen founded We Fortify, the parent company of the Working Fusion project, to help vulnerable young people “out of the cycle of poverty, permanently.”

Rent for the tiny homes will be $600 a month and potential residents will be nominated from other human services organizations in Colorado Springs. Initial leases will last for two years to allow tenants to adjust to adult responsibilities and process trauma they may have experienced as children. 

"If that [trauma] is not managed in parallel to getting that job, to learning those new life skills, it can be detrimental to the job that they now have,” Jensen said. “So, we really want to give them enough time to really handle this well."

The first two homes arrived on trailers at the site Tuesday morning. Volunteers like Charles Mingonet were building fences, leveling the homes and preparing them to be hooked up to utility lines. Organizers said outdoor decks will be built onto the structures over the next week. 

“People always go, ‘What do we do about the homeless?’” Mingonet said. “Well, let’s get them a good job and get them a place to live, not just put them up for a night.”

Using tiny home villages to help fight homelessness has also been growing in popularity in other metropolitan areas, including in Denver.