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By Jenny Rudolph and Audrey McClure
The Daily Campus (Southern Methodist University)
December 17, 2021
For Denise Ghaazee, a 430-square-foot tiny home in an experimental Dallas neighborhood has provided the space to take back her independence and find housing stability after years spent in and out of shelters.
For Terry Lantrip, a village of tiny homes in Denton County has meant following his family legacy in real estate and transforming unused farmland into a community asset.
And for Valerie Ballard, tiny homes represent an opportunity to create communities where North Texas veterans can live together in rural areas, enjoy eco-friendly options not available in the city, and practice sustainable living.
As a growing affordable housing crisis fuels rising rents and home prices, tiny homes have emerged as an appealing option for a variety of North Texans. And while even proponents admit that tiny homes aren’t going to single-handedly solve the region’s challenges with affordable housing or homelessness, they say the creative use of micro-units can serve as a source of inspiration.
“I don’t envision ever saying that tiny homes are the only solution to the housing crisis,” said John Siburt, president and CEO of CitySquare, a Dallas nonprofit which built a neighborhood of 50 tiny homes for chronically homeless residents and is now planning a community of converted shipping containers for workers. “I think those projects stir our collective imagination and add some innovation and diversity to the work.”
Rising rents, population influx contribute to housing crisis
Skyrocketing rents are perhaps the most immediate indicator of the housing crisis. According to a report released this year by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), to pay for a two-bedroom apartment at today’s fair market rent of $1,143 a month in Texas, a person would have to work 121 hours a week at minimum wage -- or earn about $22 an hour for a regular, 40-hour work week.
Texas has seen an influx of almost 4 million people in the last decade. Many of these arrivals from pricier areas of the country are what Sandy Rollins, executive director of the Texas Tenants Union, characterizes as “new people” who can often pay more than existing residents, causing a ripple effect of displacement to occur.
Dallas faces a housing shortage of about 20,000 units, city officials estimated in 2018. And rents are more expensive here than in many other parts of Texas: the NLIHC study found that in Dallas County, a fair-market two-bedroom apartment runs $1,352 a month, more than $200 above the statewide rate.
Meanwhile, home prices are also soaring across Texas. In September, the statewide median home price reached a record of $310,000, nearly 17% higher than a year ago, according to the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University.
These housing costs are contributing to persistent homelessness numbers, as more people move to the streets. The latest count by the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance found 4,570 homeless people in Dallas and Collin counties.
‘Cottages’ provide housing, services for chronically homeless
CitySquare’s neighborhood of tiny homes, The Cottages at Hickory Crossing, is nestled under the elbow of I-30 and I-75, just a stone’s throw south of Deep Ellum. It is there that Denise Ghaazee found a home nearly three years ago, after almost 16 years cycling through the shelter system.
Ghazee said her life “took a U-turn” following a divorce in 2000 and losing the home owned by her ex-husband’s family. She found herself relying on support shelters and safe houses, but never seemed to be able to fully get back on her feet.
“I was just falling victim to the streets here,” Ghaazee said. “And I’ve got all of that taken care of through the resources here…I’ve been safe here. I feel safe here. And I’ve been able to get my life back on track. Just having this place here – I don’t know what I would do if it wasn’t for this place.”
CitySquare constructed the community of 50 tiny houses in 2016 as a form of permanent supportive housing for the most vulnerable people in Dallas experiencing chronic homelessness. It is a population that often has a history of mental illnesses, jail records, and substance abuse – factors that would likely make residents unable to find housing anywhere else. The Cottages were originally built on the premise that the tax burden of leaving Dallas’ 50 most vulnerable individuals unhoused was greater than the cost of housing them.
“By our guess, through emergency room visits, police encounters and arrests, they’re costing the taxpayers of Dallas County around $40,000 per individual,” CitySquare Housing Executive Director Chad Baker said. “We can house them for around $15,000 a year, and they’re actually housed and receiving services, and not just costing taxpayers money and living on the streets.”
Shelters often require people to be sober, not have a criminal record, and have addressed their medical needs before providing them with housing. Yet CitySquare officials point out that it is nearly impossible to meet those requirements without a stable place to return to every night. The Cottages project instead takes a holistic, “zero-barriers” approach with residents by providing housing first before connecting them with medical services and counseling. Residents are then called “neighbors” and become part of the larger Cottages community.
“I found shelter, number one. Privacy to be my own person, and protection,” said Ghaazee, who plans to move into her own apartment soon. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve been to school and I’ve graduated from the CitySquare culinary school – I’m planning to eventually one day go back and finish my bachelor’s degree.”
Stable housing leads to better health, job prospects
Along with a home, the Cottages offer residents various tools for success, all tailored to guide residents to a lifestyle of self sufficiency. Data suggests the approach is working. An internal evaluation found that over three years, 54% of residents regularly attended mental health appointments, 78% saw a doctor regularly, and 94% participated in organized activities.
The project appears to have significantly lowered the rates at which residents were arrested, with 97% reporting that they were never or rarely put in jail while living at the Cottages. CitySquare officials estimate that the Cottages saved $255,723 in tax dollars over three years by reducing usage of the Dallas County Jail system.
The report also found that 80% of residents lived at the Cottages for at least six months. When surveyed, 32% of residents believed having a stable home helped improve their income and 45% believed it allowed them a much better opportunity to look for jobs.
“Whether it’s a 1% gain or a 50% gain, either way, it’s a gain, and we’re very pleased with those outcomes,” said Nadia Salibi, chief program officer at CitySquare.
Changes have been made to the Cottages in order to run more effectively. Though the initial model was to provide a home to Dallas’ 50 “hardest to house” individuals, CitySquare found that providing the services required for that level of need was unsustainable.
“We’ve kind of shifted the model some to where it’s still for the chronically homeless … but the level of severity will be distributed a little more evenly across the cottages,” Baker explained.
Building small for the veteran community
Five years ago, as Valerie Ballard’s nonprofit organization, North Texas Capacity Builders, was working to revitalize homes for veterans in Dallas, it became clear that some of the homes were uninhabitable and would be immensely expensive to overhaul.
“I told my partner, we could build them brand new tiny houses for what we’re paying to have one house totally revitalized,” Ballard said. “That’s when we decided we were gonna build tiny houses.”
By 2018, Ballard had created a new organization, Operation Tiny House, whose goal is to support homeless veterans by raising funds to build mobile tiny houses of 170 square feet or less. The organization currently has six tiny homes completed, and 52 veterans are on a wait list.
City rules require that tiny homes be connected to sewage, water, and electricity, which poses an increase in costs, Ballard said. As a result, the organization plans to develop tiny home communities for veterans in rural areas like Alvarado, south of Fort Worth. Many veterans want to live in rural, eco-friendly areas where houses are not metered, Ballard said.
Each Operation Tiny House community is made up of ten homes. The organization, which plans to develop two communities by 2022, is now raising funds by offering “tiny dining” experiences in its existing units.
A first-of-its-kind village in Denton County
When real estate developer Terry Lantrip acquired a family farm in the Denton County city of Lake Dallas, he was unsure of what to do with his new land. Then, he saw a display of tiny homes at an Earth Day celebration: “I thought, that’s really cute — how can I incorporate that into what I’m doing?” Lantrip said.
He decided to create what is now the Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village, a curated neighborhood of 13 tiny homes on wheels, each with a maximum size of 340 square feet. The neighborhood includes a community garden, a backyard for gatherings, a large courtyard, and plenty of space for neighbors to engage with their tiny home community.
Lantrip and his management enforce strict rules for maintaining the nature of the neighborhood such as regulating noise levels, landscaping, and outer decor.
Lantrip optimistically views his village as a solution to the rising prices of houses in the DFW area. The village, Lantrip said, allows people to bring in their own tiny homes — which he said cost between $50,000 and $100,000 — and rent space in the neighborhood instead of being tied to an expensive mortgage which they are paying off for 20 or 30 years.
Commercial demand for tiny homes is growing. In fact, market research company Technavio projects that the global tiny homes market will expand by $3.33 billion in the next four years.
But while the average tiny house costs less overall than a conventional home, it is 62 percent more expensive per square foot than a regular-sized home, according to research compiled by Porch Group, a software and services firm for the home industry.
One of the biggest roadblocks in creating the Lake Dallas village was the process of obtaining permitting. Lantrip had to work with the city of Lake Dallas, which is about 30 miles northwest of downtown Dallas, to approve his neighborhood.
Lake Dallas had no regulations accommodating tiny home villages at the time. But in 2018, the International Residential Code — a list of regulations for housing requirements that cities must follow in permitting and zoning — added Appendix Q, which clarified safety standards for tiny houses under 400 square feet. For example, the appendix allows an emergency exit to be built into the roof.
Once the city of Lake Dallas adopted the new standards, Lantrip was able to break ground on the project in early 2019, making it the first tiny home village of its kind in the United States — built from scratch to take advantage of Appendix Q.
“Cities are so scared of tiny homes,” Lantrip said. “I challenge any city leader, mayor, council member, city administrators … come visit and we will show you there’s nothing to be scared about. It’s actually a very big asset to our community.”
Tiny in size — and scope?
In Dallas, which has not yet adopted Appendix Q, tiny homes on a foundation must go through the same permitting process as other constructed homes, while tiny homes on wheels are treated the same as manufactured homes, according to city staff.
Mike King, a senior planner with the City of Dallas, said the city “fully intends” to adopt Appendix Q and even consulted a draft version when approving construction of a tiny home in 2018. But King said there are significant limitations to the scope of tiny homes as an effective housing solution, especially because of their size.
“They fit well as a potential housing choice for empty nesters, single occupants, and some first-time homebuyers,” King wrote in an email. “But the occupants still must weigh their needs against the smaller scale living experience compared to the norms that most Americans expect.”
Nationally, cities from Denver to Boston to Chicago to Los Angeles have deployed small home models to address affordable housing and homelessness. Despite the benefits of the tiny house movement, two major hurdles remain: opposition from neighbors and zoning limitations.
Community opposition, also known as NIMBY, or “Not In My Backyard,” has been a major factor in halting tiny home initiatives. In Austin, for example, neighborhood opposition caused a proposed community of tiny homes for chronically homeless persons to relocate just outside the city limits.
Zoning and permitting regulations are another common impediment to the spread of the small home movement across the country. Cities frequently have zoning restrictions limiting the number of single-family residences per acre, which means that regulations must be amended for tiny home villages to be an affordable housing option.
In Dallas, navigating the approval process can be complicated and lengthy. It involves inspections to ensure that construction is permitted, has proper zoning, and meets the needs of the community, as well as the installation of the homes.
CitySquare’s Baker said a “build by right” provision that would privilege affordable housing projects could be one policy change that could help address the crisis.
“Just having some sort of foothold on ‘building by right’ would be a huge leg up for building new affordable housing,” Baker said.
Unboxing new solutions
CitySquare’s newest housing project will repurpose 300-square-foot shipping containers into one-bedroom apartments. Rendering courtesy of CitySquare Housing.
CitySquare’s next small home solution, the Lomax Container Housing Project, will be just across the street from the Cottages at Hickory Crossing – once its city permits come through.
Lomax, named for its location at the intersection of Louise Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard, will be a community of 21 one-bedroom apartments made from repurposed shipping containers. Baker said the 300-square-foot containers are intended to help fill in the “missing middle” of affordable housing in Dallas: People who make between $30,000 and $35,000 and don’t qualify for subsidies, but are still unable to afford market rates.
Baker said the containers can provide a rare opportunity for service workers who have jobs downtown or in Deep Ellum to live and work in the same neighborhood. The goal, he said, “is to start filling in those gaps for those that just don’t have the resources or the opportunity to live anywhere near where they work.”
Executives had hoped to begin construction on the project early this year, but that timetable has been delayed. Though the project has received state approvals, CitySquare must now clear city approvals before moving forward with construction.
When it does take shape, the container project will make a tiny dent in Dallas’ affordable housing shortage. The larger issue, however, requires a variety of solutions that will involve as much policy work as project work, according to Siburt, CitySquare’s CEO.
“The Cottages, Lomax — every other development type that we try to get done is literally like one piece to a thousand-piece puzzle,” Baker added. “There is no ‘one solution.’ It’s going to take a myriad of projects to even scratch the surface of what’s needed as far as affordable housing.”
Elina Bougas, Lucy Burke, Maria Chammas, Ruth Anne Emerson and Vedang Uniyal contributed to this article.
The article was produced by students enrolled in an SMU Division of Journalism course participating in the Dallas Media Collaborative, a group of local news outlets, universities and nonprofits focused on covering affordable housing with a solutions-oriented approach. The course, Business News Seminar, was taught by Jake Batsell.
The Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village in Denton County opened in 2019. Tiny homes pictured here can cost
By John Egan
November 24, 2021
Tiny homes keep popping up across Texas. In downtown Lake Dallas, for instance, about a dozen families have settled into a tiny home village billed as the first center-of-the-city development of its kind. In the Austin area, several tiny home communities are already open or are in the works.
A new ranking indicates Lake Dallas and the Austin area are onto something. IPX1031, a financial services provider for real estate investors, puts Texas at No. 2 on its list of the best states for tiny homes.
“Sure, everything might be bigger in Texas, but that doesn’t mean your home has to be,” IPX1031 says. “With an average tiny home cost of $48,120 and a median income of $64,034, you can get the most bang for your buck when it comes to tiny living in Texas.”
Georgia grabs the No. 1 spot on the list. IPX1031 based its ranking on each state’s average cost to buy a tiny home, median income, cost of living, average annual temperature, and percentage of parkland.
While Texas takes second place in the ranking of the best states for tiny homes, it doesn’t rank highly for interest in this style of living. A review of Google search activity by IPX1031 pinpointed Vermont as the state where residents are most curious about tiny homes, followed by New Hampshire, Maine, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Alaska.
A survey last year by IPX1031 found that 56 percent of Americans would live in a tiny home, with affordability cited as the No. 1 reason. Most tiny homes measure 400 square feet or less. By one estimate, tiny homes make up about 1 percent of the U.S. home market.
By the way, Texas’ richest resident, Tesla and SpaceX leader Elon Musk, on November 13 swatted down speculation that he’s living in a Boxabl tiny house along the Gulf Coast. While hailing Boxabl as a “cool product,” Musk tweeted that he’s been living in a small $50,000 home in South Texas for the past two years.
“Feels more homey to live in a small house,” Musk told his 64.5 million Twitter followers.
By Zaira Perez
Denton Record Chronicle
May 26, 2020
Residents of a unique community in Lake Dallas have quarantined from the rest of the world during the COVID-19 pandemic — but not from each other.
The Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village is home to 12 — soon to be 13 — families, each in their own small houses up to 340 square feet big on about an acre of land. Couples and families moved in with the hopes of finally living in their dream homes while also forming a tight-knit community.
“Even living in an apartment, you rarely see your neighbor,” resident Luis Chavez said. “You don’t even know their name. … And here, it’s like, everybody knows each other. Everybody says hi, good morning.”
The tiny home movement encourages living a simpler life in a smaller space, according to Tiny Home Builders. People “go tiny” to be more sustainable, decrease home maintenance, be more mobile and save money.
The Lake Dallas tiny homes are nestled in a neighborhood near Lake Dallas City Hall. A sign outside the fence advises passersby not to trespass. Trees provide natural shade, while the kids run around and the adults catch up. A camp-style sign inside points residents to the laundry, garden, trash, fire pit, recycling and the backyard.
Saturday afternoon, Marek and Ko Bush were preparing to grill food, Janessa Hook was walking her dog Tracker, and other residents were chatting in chairs set up in between their houses. This is a typical day in the village.
Stay-at-home orders encouraged gathering only among the residents. Morning coffee outside and movie days with a feature film projected onto a wall were normal occurrences. As residents have experienced financial hardships and are limiting their time outside the village, Rick Schon said stay-at-home orders accelerated the bonds they already had.
“During quarantine, we’ve been quarantined within here,” Micah Eady said. “We’ve had more frequent cookouts and movie nights. Those have become kind of an every-weekend thing since the quarantine.”
When they do go out, Chavez said they take precautions and also text each other if they’re at grocery stores to pick up necessities for others to help limit exposure. Hook said they’ve also had groceries delivered.
“I usually change before I even come in the house [from work] to minimize the exposure to our partners and everybody else here,” Chavez said.
Chavez and Eady are both essential workers, and Eady works in health care.
“There’s a sanitation process when I come home,” Eady said. “I come home, and nothing from work enters.”
Some residents such as the Bushes and Rani Chavez were furloughed, and school closures led to the children in the community being home all day splitting their time between home school and play.
“We were both furloughed from our jobs, so we’ve been [home] pretty much the entire time,” Marek Bush said about his and his wife Ko’s situation. “We’ve been taking to some of our other hobbies to keep busy.”
One of these hobbies includes uploading to their shared YouTube channel, Living Tiny with the Bushes.
“Having such a tight-knit community has been really helpful in keeping our sanity,” Katilin Scraub said. “I can’t imagine if we were still living in our own house.”
Residents of the Lake Dallas TIny Home Village stand together for a portrait. Photo by Jeff Woo/DRC
By Clark Fouraker - NBC
February 27, 2020
With real estate prices rising and wages failing to keep pace, more people simply can’t afford rents or mortgages. That is especially true for Millennials, who often join the workforce burdened by more outstanding student loan debt than earlier generations, according to a Pew Research study.
That problem inspired the development of the country’s first tiny home neighborhood in the North Texas suburb of Lake Dallas.
More communities have since joined the trend, with tiny homes also being used to help people facing homelessness in cities including Seattle, Detroit and Austin.
So if tiny homes do so much good, why aren’t they everywhere? The roadblocks include zoning, permitting and also public perception.This is a long form text area designed for your content that you can fill up with as many words as your heart desires. You can write articles, long mission statements, company policies, executive profiles, company awards/distinctions, office locations, shareholder reports, whitepapers, media mentions and other pieces of content that don’t fit into a shorter, more succinct space.
We talked to the Lake Dallas crazies fitting their lives inside 300 or 400 (meticulously executed) square feet.
By Rebecca Lee Moody
Photos by Jonathan Zizzo
When the tiny house movement started rolling some five years ago, who’d have thought the idea of living in something the size of a large walk-in closet would take off? But, as it happens, going small has become so big that there are tiny house-themed TV shows and festivals. For owners of tiny houses on wheels, home is where you park it, and they can be found on farms, in corners of private properties, and in rural tiny house communities.
Those were the only options until Terry Lantrip got involved. The Lake Dallas real estate developer had a unique vision a couple of years ago that landed him in the spotlight of the national movement: a village exclusively for movable tiny houses, located in an urban area. Lantrip set about creating the Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village, and, after a three-year ride from concept to completion, the country’s first tiny house community to be built within city limits opened in October.
Lantrip saw his first tiny house at the State Fair of Texas in 2014. “I thought it was the cutest thing ever,” he says. “The following year, at Earth Day in Dallas, there were nine of them, and the lines were so long I didn’t even get to go inside any. But I saw how popular they are. When I proposed the idea of an urban village to the Lake Dallas City Council in 2016, they liked it. They thought it’d help revitalize downtown.”
Along with their interest, the Council also had some concerns with the Aubrey, Texas, native’s novel proposal. “They wanted to see a list of community rules, as well as to regulate it so as to ensure its long-term success,” he says. “We all had to learn what we were doing, since it wasn’t something anyone had ever dealt with. It took about a year to get the green light.” Then another to prepare the property with utility connections, landscaping, and the establishment of individual spaces for the village’s 13 houses to come.
Located two blocks off Main Street, down leafy Gotcher Avenue, a bright white picket fence marks the spot where a collection of little homes shares a shady 1-acre lot with pecan trees; green picnic tables; the Washateria; and a ring of red, white, and blue metal chairs surrounding a fire pit.
Lantrip is pleased with how positively the village has been received. “People really think the houses are cute and a good addition to the community,” he says. “It’s making a huge impact. Churches and businesses have been doing gift packages to welcome the residents.”
One person’s closet truly is another’s castle. Lantrip says his Lake Dallas tenants “are a cohesive group, all of whom have the same mindset. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
"We want this to look not like an RV park. We want it to look like home. A nice place to call home."
October 18, 2019
By Kevin Reece
WFAA - ABC - Dallas
LAKE DALLAS, Texas — Terry Lantrip made a deal with the granddaughter of a Denton County farmer -- if he bought the final 3.5 acres on Gotcher Avenue between Main Street and E. Hundley Drive, he had to keep the towering pecan trees, a turn of the century farm house and a sense of home in place.
Lantrip is doing just that, except with a little more "tiny" sense of home than most people are used to.
"I didn't realize this would be such a big deal. It was just a good use of the property," Lantrip said.
Over the past three years, he's worked to turn the final acre of that property in to the Lake Dallas Tiny Home VIllage.
Five of the 13 plots are already occupied, a total of 11 are spoken for and the final two are still available.
Lantrip owns the property. The residents own their homes and lease their spots for $500 to $550 a month. Homes ranging in size from 100 to 400 square feet are hooked up to city facilities with resident access to a washateria and a future community center.
"We want this to look not like an RV park. We want it to look like home. A nice place to call home," said Lantrip.
The residents include Ko and Marek Bush who moved their 200 square foot home to Lake Dallas in just the last month. They promote their tiny house and low-debt lifestyle on YouTube, including their move to Lake Dallas.
Other residents include families with children. Teachers are also among some of the first residents in search of a minimal, low-cost lifestyle.
"And they want to travel they don't want to be bogged down with a house," Lantrip said.
"I am liking it more every day," said Lake Dallas mayor Michael Barnhart who admits he was skeptical of the idea at first, worried about the quality of the homes and the development.
But now he's a convert, pleased by the families who have decided to call the Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village....home.
So does he want one now?
"No," he laughed. "But believe it or not my chief of police is interested in doing it. He says he would do it in a heartbeat if he was single but he's just having a hard time getting his wife convinced."
"The problem with tiny homes is that there are people that want to live in tiny homes but there's just not many places to put them, especially in cities," Lantrip said.
Now on a corner of what used to be a Denton County farm, those towering pecan trees will eventually shade the tiny homes of 13 families. You can tour the final two vacancies this Sunday at 10 a.m. if you're interested.
"And I have a feeling those will go pretty quick, once the word gets out," Lantrip said.
And then, after recovering from the three-year effort, he says he'll start looking for the next site to a build a tiny home village all over again.
October 17, 2019
By John Egan
The first residents of a tiny-home development in Lake Dallas have moved in, and more tiny-house projects could be on the horizon across Dallas-Fort Worth.
Earlier this month, residents occupied five homes at the 13-lot Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village, developer Terry Lantrip says. More move-ins are on tap, but a couple of lots do remain available.
“We have other small developers and tiny-home enthusiasts who want to build their own tiny-home villages that have asked for help, since we’ve been successful with this village,” Lantrip tells CultureMap.
Lantrip says he’s working with one developer who wants to build two tiny-house villages in the DFW area. He declines to identify where those developments are being contemplated.
The Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village is billed as the first project of its kind to be located in a downtown district in the U.S. It’s within walking distance of parks, restaurants, two schools, and a library.
Each lot at the Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village rents for $500 to $550 a month, including access to a “washateria,” and hookups for water and sewer service. One lot accommodates a resident-owned tiny home ranging from 100 to 400 square feet — no bigger than a modest hotel suite. Lot leases are renewed every 12 months. Tiny homes must be on wheels but be tied down and have fire-resistant skirting installed.
The median price of a tiny home in the U.S. is close to $60,000.
Lantrip says the village is one of the most challenging projects he’s ever undertaken. Initial work on the village started three years ago.
“There was a lot of learning about tiny homes and the tiny-home lifestyle, and there was a lot of teaching, especially city staff, the contractors and tradesmen. Most of those we worked with on this project hadn’t even seen a tiny home in person,” he says.
Officials from one DFW suburb already have stopped by the Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village on a fact-finding trip, as they’re considering a tiny-home village in their city, Lantrip says. He declines to name that community.
Lantrip envisions officials from other cities visiting the village and realizing that with proper planning and strict guidelines, “there’s really nothing to fear” about tiny-home developments.
“I’m sure other cities are watching to see if a tiny-home village will work in their city,” he says. “A tiny-home village would work really well in a city or an area of a city that needs something to help spur development.”
“Our business community has been very receptive because they know this will bring in more residents who will be customers,” Lantrip adds, “and it will also bring in people who just want to drive by and see a real tiny-home village.”
Nearly 7,800 people live in Lake Dallas, which sits along Lewisville Lake. The Denton County suburb is about 30 miles northwest of Dallas.
Tiny-home enthusiasts throughout North Texas helped make the Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village a reality, Lantrip says. For instance, some tiny-home boosters attended public meetings in Lake Dallas where Lantrip’s project was discussed, while others assisted with planning, property development, and landscaping.
“It takes a village to build a village,” he says, “and it couldn’t have been more true with this project.”
February 13, 2019
By John Egan
Going, going … almost gone. Twelve of the 13 lots available for lease at a new tiny-home community in Lake Dallas already have been snapped up, and the project has just broken ground.
Terry Lantrip, developer of the Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village, was joined February 9 at the project’s groundbreaking by Lake Dallas Mayor Michael Barnhart, other members of the City Council, and future homeowners.
Residents are scheduled to settle there by April or May; only one lot remains unspoken for.
The village sits in downtown Lake Dallas, about 30 miles north of downtown Dallas between Denton and Lewisville. Nearly 8,000 people live in Lake Dallas, a Denton County town.
“Our village will be the first of its kind in the United States — and probably the world,” Lantrip says.
Lantrip says this will be the first tiny-home community “built from scratch” — not a retrofit of an RV or mobile home park — within the city limits of a municipality. All the homes will be on wheels, he adds, and will adhere to an international building code adopted in 2018 for tiny homes (defined as houses totaling less than 400 square feet).
Every one of the 13 lots for the tiny homes will be leased to residents for around $500 to $550 per month. All of the lots will be occupied by homes that residents have purchased on their own.
Each lot measures to 900 square feet, Lantrip says, and each home will be roughly 200 to 350 square feet. By comparison, the average hotel room in the U.S. covers about 325 square feet.
Amenities at the village will include a laundry facility, a community garden, a shared courtyard, a shared backyard, and a built-in smoker for cooking.
“Lake Dallas made a big step in being the first city to allow a tiny-home community within the city limits,” Lantrip told CultureMap in 2018. “The Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village will bring quite a bit of visibility to the city and shows that we’re very open to development.”
A second phase of the tiny-home village is planned, Lantrip says, but that “will be years down the road.”
In the meantime, Lantrip is developing 14 duplex “bungalows” next to the tiny-home community. Each unit there will measure 750 to 1,100 square feet.
Lantrip is now a full-time real estate developer following a 21-year stint as owner and publisher of The Lake Cities Sun in Lake Dallas.
Rendition by Lewis Gonzales
February 10, 2019
By Zaira Perez
Denton Record Chronicle
LAKE DALLAS — The acre of land in a neighborhood near Lake Dallas City Hall was just grass, dirt and pecan trees, but soon it will be filled with tiny homes for more than a dozen North Texas residents.
After two years of advocacy and planning, Lake Dallas City Council members, and supporters and future residents of the new tiny home village gathered around a campfire Saturday morning for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village.
The village at 206 Gotcher Ave. will be the first tiny-home community in the nation within city limits, land developer Terry Lantrip said in an email.
The village will be ready by April for tenants to move in.
“It’s a unique concept, so I can understand why [people were] apprehensive,” Lantrip said. “[I want to] set the precedence for future tiny home villages where people can see that they shouldn’t have a fear of having a tiny village in their town.”
The 2018 International Residential Code defines tiny homes as “a dwelling that is 400 square feet or less in floor area excluding lofts.”
The Lake Dallas community will house 13 lots that residents will be leasing for their tiny homes. Residents will have about 800 square feet of land with most of their homes ranging from 200 to 300 square feet.
Tenants can rent 800 square feet of land for their homes for $500 a month. Five 900-square-foot lots go for $550.
The tiny homes will be on wheels. Tenants can build their homes, but they aren’t allowed to build on-site.
The tiny home movement received more attention during the 2008 housing crisis. Since then, tiny houses have popped up around the country.
However, tiny homeowners and tenants have received push back - including in Denton County - — due to minimum square feet requirements and zoning codes.
Future resident Jet Regan said the legality of the community in Lake Dallas is the main reason she plans on moving in.
“This [village will give] you the security and community [without] people calling code [enforcement] on you,” Regan said.
Another future resident, Jenn Bergreen, also said the Lake Dallas community is appealing because she won’t have to move out due to codes. Bergreen was a homeowner for 17 years in McKinney.
“I can be with a group of like-minded people who have the same vision in a safe environment,” Bergreen said.
That vision includes reducing their carbon footprint, taking up less space and saving money, said a few future residents.
Bergreen said she noticed most of her time and money in her traditional home was spent on upkeep.
“I wasn’t getting to spend as much time as I wanted to being outside, traveling, seeing my family, my friends,” Bergreen said. “[Now] I can spend more time doing things I really want to do. I’d rather live more life.”
Madelyn and Casey Johnson, both teachers in Lewisville, said having a smaller home was appealing to them because they like to travel a lot during the summer. Saving money by living in a tiny home will give the couple the ability to travel more, Madelyn said.
“We’re both really outdoors-y people, and a lot of houses now are taking up so much space outside as opposed to only [using] what you need,” Casey said. “And then spend your time in nature — that’s what we really enjoy doing.”
The acre of land Lantrip bought is the site of a 1910 farmhouse. The farmhouse is still there and is now home to a couple, Steve and Bridget Radke, who said they are excited for their neighbors to move in.
“We think it’s cool there’s going to be an outdoor community we get to be a part of here,” Steve said.
Bridget said they’ve both learned a lot about tiny homes since moving into the farmhouse. The research and seeing it all come together has made them interested in moving into a tiny home, they said. Nothing is certain yet, but Bridget said they’re open to the idea.
B.A. Norrgard, who founded the DFW Tiny House Enthusiasts Facebook group, attended the groundbreaking on Saturday. She has lived in a tiny home since 2014 and helped Lantrip with the Lake Dallas project.
Norrgard said she wanted to establish a tiny home village in Dallas but wasn’t able to do so.
“I’m very glad that [Lantrip] has made it a reality,” Norrgard said. “I just really hope [this village serves as] a bright light on the movement and shows other cities it is possible. I think it’s going to bring change they won’t expect but they’re really going to love.”
Photo by Jeff Woo
February 5, 2018
By John Egan
What is billed as the first project of its kind in the U.S. — a downtown village of tiny houses — is taking shape in the Denton County suburb of Lake Dallas.
As early as this June, 13 tiny homes are expected to pop up in downtown Lake Dallas, which is about 30 miles north of down
The Lake Dallas City Council approved the tiny home village last October. The project has proven so popular that 70 people already are on a waiting list for lots, each of which will measure roughly 800 to 1,000 square feet.
“Lake Dallas made a big step in being the first city to allow a tiny-home community within the city limits,” says local resident Terry Lantrip, the project’s developer. “The Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village will bring quite a bit of visibility to the city and shows that we’re very open to development.”
Each lot at the Lake Dallas Tiny Home Village will rent for $500 to $550 a month, including hookups for water, sewer service and electricity, and will accommodate a tiny home ranging from 100 to 400 square feet — no bigger than a modest hotel suite. Lot leases will be renewed every 12 months.
A resident of the village must buy his or her own tiny home, which has to be on wheels, and set it up on a lot. The cost of a tiny home varies widely; the median price is around $60,000, but a tiny home can be had for less than $20,000.
Village amenities will include a self-service laundry facility, storage buildings, a public lawn, a community garden, picnic areas, and outdoor furniture.
The second phase of the project will involve renovating a more than 100-year-old house on the property as a community center, Lantrip says. Next door to the village, Lantrip plans to build a 14-unit bungalow community that would share the community center.
City officials say the tiny-home village will be a welcome addition to downtown Lake Dallas. The community has nearly 8,000 residents.
“Tiny-house people tend to be well-educated, employed, with disposable income. They can help bolster downtown businesses,” City Manager John Cabrales Jr. told the Next City blog.
In a community survey taken in 2017, residents were asked what their first mental image is regarding Lake Dallas. Just 10 percent cited the downtown district. Nearby Lake Lewisville was the No. 1 response, but other top responses included residential neighborhoods, development along Interstate 35E, trailer parks, liquor stores, run-down businesses, and bad roads.
In another part of the survey, local residents overwhelmingly named the downtown district as the No. 1 priority for redevelopment in Lake Dallas. However, just 8 percent of people living there said residential development was what’s needed to make downtown Lake Dallas more vibrant.
“Progress and prosperity passed up Lake Dallas long ago. Most businesses moved to more populated thoroughfares, and past city leadership seemed to focus on more industrial uses in our community. There were so many opportunities lost due to a lack of vision for the city,” Lantrip says.
“Lake Dallas is now trying to rebuild itself,” he adds, “and will have to rebrand itself as a good place to live, develop, and bring businesses.”
Rendering by Lewis Gonzales
January 18, 2019
By Lisa Prevost
As Teresa Lewis entered her fifties, she began to seriously consider how she would afford retirement. An executive assistant in the Dallas area, Lewis worked full-time while also taking care of her mother, and it had become quite clear that “no pot of gold” waited for her come age 65. She’d watched friends spend their retirement years trying to scrape by on Social Security—“it’s not pretty,” she says—and wanted to better position herself by finding a way to dramatically minimize her living expenses, while still maintaining a decent quality of life.
Her solution? A tiny house, something she’d read about online. In 2015, she headed to Colorado Springs for the first Tiny House Jamboree and toured some houses on display. The visit inspired her to plan in earnest for a downsized lifestyle. And this summer, Lewis, now 56, will move into her own 375-square-foot tiny home alongside a dozen other similarly sized dwellings in what could be the country’s first urban tiny home community that’s officially sanctioned by a municipality.
Lake Dallas, a city of roughly 8,000 located about 20 miles north of Dallas on Lake Lewisville, approved the tiny home development plan last October in hopes of bringing more foot traffic to its sleepy downtown and elevating its profile. Once a center for commerce, downtown has been overshadowed by a heavily developed, highway-accessible corridor of chain stores and fast-food restaurants. A regional commuter train regularly rushes past Main Street without stopping, as the city opted years back not to join the funding authority that operates the service.
The City Council voted 4-1 to change the zoning for a one-acre property about a block from downtown from single-family dwelling to a planned development district with a “tiny house park” as an allowed use. “We will have some more people living right downtown here,” says city manager John Cabrales, Jr. “Tiny house people tend to be well-educated, employed, with disposable income. They can help bolster downtown businesses.”
The developer, Terry Lantrip, is a familiar face in town—he ran the weekly newspaper for two decades and has built several mixed-use buildings downtown. Lantrip hopes that the publicity surrounding the tiny house community will bring additional downtown investment. “It shows that Lake Dallas is open to new ideas,” he says. “It says, if you bring us something of quality, we’re more than willing to listen to you.”
The park won’t be ready until June at the earliest, but Lantrip already has more than 50 people on the waiting list for one of the 13 lots. That’s not surprising given that, even as HGTV has popularized the previously fringy concept with programs like “Tiny House Hunters,” finding a place to put a tiny house remains the greatest challenge. Zoning typically does not allow for such small dwellings, which are commonly no more than 400 square feet. The houses, which are often built on wheeled trailers, do not conform to local building codes for single-family dwellings. And while some are built to meet the certification standards for a recreational vehicle, zoning usually precludes year-round living in an RV.
So it is that the vast majority of tiny house residents are living illegally. Some municipalities with severe affordable housing shortages, including Fresno, CA., Portland, OR., and Nantucket, MA, now allow a tiny house to share a lot with an existing home as an accessory dwelling unit (with various restrictions). But proposals for tiny house communities have run up against staunch resistance in densely developed areas, usually due to neighborhood pushback or uncertainty about how to regulate and tax them.
“I think once one community in an urban area is successful, it will be the model for others,” says B.A. Norrgard,, a well-known Dallas-area tiny house advocate. A former litigation paralegal who traded her career and Tudor home for greater independence, Norrgard now lives in (and travels with) a 78-square-foot house on wheels she built herself. (She parks it in a friend’s backyard in Garland, Texas, which technically isn’t legal, but, she says, “The mayor knows I’m here. He’s okay with it.”) Norrgard says she has helped advise other developers who have wanted to set up tiny house communities, but Lantrip is the first to be successful.
One major factor that worked in his favor was the International Code Council’s approval of a model building code for tiny houses for inclusion in the 2018 International Residential Code. The ordinance adopted by the Lake Dallas City Council requires that all tiny houses in the park be constructed in compliance with that code, which regulates such things as ceiling heights, ladder safety for accessing a lofted bed, and emergency exits.
The concept also found an enthusiastic advocate in the city planner, Kevin Lasher, who worked with Lantrip on drafting an ordinance and responding to issues raised by councilors. (Lasher now works for another city.) And finally, Lantrip says his track record and longevity in Lake Dallas “helped tremendously” with gaining officials’ trust that he would stick around to manage the park.
“It’s very doubtful that an outsider could have gotten it through,” he says. “I’ve been here 32 years, so I’m obviously not going to cash out and move on.”
The park will include eight 800-square-foot lots, accommodating homes up to 35 feet long, and five 900-square-foot lots, for slightly longer homes. All lots will have water, sewer and electric hookups. Rents will run around $500 a month (including water and sewer charges) on a 12-month lease. Houses must be owner-occupied and on wheels, so they can easily be removed if the owner isn’t complying with community rules, Lantrip says.
Cabrales says they aren’t yet sure how the park and its residents will be taxed – the city attorney is still researching that. And Lantrip hasn’t yet obtained financing, as he is still waiting for the engineering for the utilities, drainage, etc., to be completed, but he doesn’t anticipate a problem. He already owns the land.
With input from Norrgard and Jet Regan, another tiny house activist, Lantrip designed the park so that cars will be parked on the perimeter, leaving plenty of interior room for shared community features, such as a bike storage shed, fire pit, garden area, and a laundry area. If all goes well, an antique farmhouse on the site will eventually be converted to community meeting and dining spaces.
Regan, 36, is a database engineering analyst who got interested in tiny house living primarily because she has “a whole lot of” student loans. “I don’t foresee being able to ever afford a mortgage,” she says. “And secondary to that, I just don’t have a lot of stuff.” She has participated in seven “community builds” of other peoples’ tiny houses organized through a Dallas/Fort Worth Meetup group started by Norrgard. She plans to build her own in 2019.
For Norrgard, the Lake Dallas village brings tiny homes one step closer to being accepted as a mainstream housing option, rather than one that must be hidden. So many people are now “pushing at the zoning wall” that blocks tiny houses, she figures it won’t be long before more communities follow Lake Dallas’s lead. If you think about it, she says, “it’s a low-risk endeavor for these municipalities. Why not give it a try? If it doesn’t work, the people can all just pack up their houses and go.”
Lisa Prevost is a New York City-area journalist specializing in housing and real estate development. She is the author of “Snob Zones: Fear, Prejudice and Real Estate” (Beacon Press, 2013), and a regular contributor to The New York Times.
Photo: BA Norrgard, a tiny house activist, on the steps of her tiny home during a tour.
October 27, 2017
By Seth Voorhees
KXAS - NBC - Dallas
The popularity of tiny houses is on the rise, thanks in part to TV shows that are dedicated to them.
Now, a North Texas city could get its own tiny park development — the first of its kind in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Lake Dallas City Council approved a local developer's plan to build 13 tiny houses on an acre of land there.
"Lake Dallas is kind of an area that's been passed up by progress and prosperity," said developer Terry Lantrip, who hopes to turn that around.
His plan is to think out of the box — a very small box of a house.
Lantrip plans to build 13 tiny houses on property he's owned for 15 years on Gotcher Avenue, a quiet residential street.
"This is an option for people," Lantrip said. "It's not an inexpensive option. These are custom built high quality homes."
Lantrip says tiny homes in his development could range from $40,000 to $100,000 each, depending on size and features. He expects his property to be ready for construction in about six months.
The developer also realized tiny houses are not for everyone. Would he live in one?
"I don't think so," he said. "I like the concept, but I don't think I'm quite ready for it."
He is, however, confident that there are enough folks who think a tiny house would be a perfect fit.
"I have no worry that this is going to be filled very quickly," he said.