A new meaning of being home for the holidays


Students and faculty from Norwich University built and gifted energy-efficient tiny homes for the holidays.

The Design+Build collaborative teamed up with Downstreet Housing and Washington County Mental Health Services.

“It looks like a Vermont house and it’s designed for a Vermont climate,” said Design+Build Collabrative Director, Cara Armstrong.

The Executive Director of Washington County Mental Health Services, Mary Mouton, said this is a project that has been in the works for some time and the type of housing is for vulnerable Vermonters.

“Providing an option for people who are homeless because not all people fit into living within an apartment like setting and we really want to create that spectrum of housing. The houses are designed so that there broader and more open in the front and then toward the back they actually slant down toward a smaller space which is more the bedroom space,” said Mouton.

These 300 square foot tiny houses are called LIFTS located in Barre City.

Students were able to work directly with individuals that planned on living in the LIFT, making the design appropriate for their needs.

Both lift houses were enabled by grant support from the TD charitable foundation, and the Vermont housing and conservation board. Former Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon and his wife, Karen, donated the land. The lifts now occupy the land of where a deteriorating home once stood.

“Everyone deserves a home. I think we really see that and working with Washington County Mental Health seeing the strengths of some people needing to live in a home where they have their own walls and their more successful in housing when they have their own walls,” said Associate Director of Real Estate Development for Downstreet Housing and Community Development, Nicola Anderson.

Housing vouchers are paired with the dwellings to serve people who have mental illness and/or are at high risk of homelessness or are now homeless.

“In terms of Norwich students, I mean through hands on learning they are really developing skills and goals to make a difference and they are already making a difference. So I think of them as forces of change and innovation. Just knowing that this is supportive housing there is a Washington County Mental Health office just about a mile away so its a way for people to start gaining their independence,” said Armstrong.

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