Chapel Hill church helps 3 once-homeless people get new ‘tiny homes’

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — Thanks to an Orange County church, three people, once homeless, now have new tiny homes.

The innovative way the Chapel Hill church, Episcopal Church of the Advocate, is tackling homelessness is attracting attention.

According to the church, the project cost $165,000, and they’ve had help with donations and grants from people, local organizations, the town of Chapel Hill and UNC.

The church’s pastor, Rev. Lisa Fischbeck, told CBS 17 that members of the church, neighbors in the community and a social worker helped choose the three men who moved in one week ago.

One of the men includes Nathaniel “Pee Wee” Lee.

“I feel happy,” Lee said. “I can go to sleep when I want to. I can walk in and cook when I want to. I can go shower. I can go outside,” Lee said.

Lee, 75, battled obstacles, including being homeless for more than 10 years.

“He was sleeping on benches at one point,” Lee’s sister, Sylvia Harris said.

“It was hard,” Lee added. “Sometimes, you couldn’t get food. You couldn’t get sleep at night.”

Lee also battled drug addiction and suffered a stroke.

But after getting clean, he wanted to get a roof over his head. And thanks to the church and others in the community, he now has one.

“It feels good to have your own home in a house, free-standing,” Fischbeck said. “They (the three men) each had a long time of homelessness and threat of homelessness, and showed an ability to live independently, yet interdependently, and also had that amount of income to allow them to pay some rent.”

This weekend, the church held a housewarming party, collecting items for the three men.

Fischbeck said people throughout the community will also be checking in on them during their stay.

She also told CBS 17 this is not transitional housing, and people can live here as long as they can pay rent which is based on a third of their income.

According to Fischbeck, the homes are directed toward people with income less than 30 percent of the average median income. She believes their monthly income is probably about $700 to $1,000 a month.

Church officials said they’re still collecting items for the men living at the homes. If you’re interested in helping out the three residents or donating items for them to the church, you can email

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