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Tiny homes open next month to Bastrop County families in need

An emergency family shelter made of tiny houses will open in Bastrop County by year’s end, with a waiting list two-dozen names long already.

Roland Nava, the pastor of In the Streets Hands Up High Ministry, has been planning the shelter for nearly a year now. It will open next door to his soup kitchen, in a dense forest of pine trees off Texas 95 in Bastrop, next month.

Dubbed S.A.F.E., or Secure Acre Family Environment, it will house individuals and families in need of emergency housing between one and three months.

“People are always going through a disaster every day,” Nava said. “Not a fire, not a flood, but their own disasters, their own hard situations. And I believe we need to be prepared.”

So far, local businesses have donated funds to build the first three tiny houses, which can each comfortably fit five. The houses are named for their contributors: Bastrop Christian Church, First National Bank of Bastrop and Amazing Floors.

But with countless families continuing to reach out for help and an opening date still weeks away, Nava said he needs more support. The facility will need additional donations to finish the five remaining houses that will sit on the property.

“We are trying to reach more, to get more sponsorship, to get more homes,” Nava said.

Each house costs $6,000 to construct.

Inside are all the familiar comforts of home: a pair of bunk beds, dining table, mini refrigerator, microwave and inviting decor. Nearby is a shower house, serviced by a new septic system that was paid for by an anonymous donor.

The gated facility has a zero-tolerance policy for drugs, alcohol and domestic violence, hence the center’s name, S.A.F.E.

Residents will have access to three meals a day, free health screenings, church services and transportation to and from Bastrop’s town center. An outdoor stage will host concerts and movies.

Nava’s larger vision: to purchase an expansive property sometime in the future and build a larger facility.

“People need to realize that Bastrop is growing,” Nava said. “There are a lot of people coming in to Bastrop. So there’s going to be a bigger need and people just need to start being prepared for it, instead of rejecting people and pushing people away.”

This year, proceeds from the holiday concert organized by area churches, A Joyous Christmas, will benefit the ministry, with funds going to its new emergency shelters. The show will debut at the Jerry Fay Wilhelm Center for the Performing Arts in Bastrop on Dec. 22, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Last year, a special slide show honored the work of the Bastrop County Long-Term Recovery Team after the monstrous 2011 Complex Fire. Proceeds went to that organization for recovery efforts.

To donate directly to the ministry, visit itshuh-ministry.org or call 512-317-7503.

The Open Door Soup Kitchen will be open Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve for those in need.