COVINGTON, Ga. - A Newton County family has plans to donate land and develop a non-profit organization all to help local homeless people get the step up they need to get off the streets.
Wesley Hausmann said he and his wife, Amy, were moved after a representative from Rockdale Emergency Relief (RER) spoke at their church. The representative spoke about how child trafficking and homelessness affects the local community. The Hausmanns knew they had to do something.
“Having fallen on tough times myself, I have always been sensitive to the homeless community,” Wesley said. “I have been homeless before but nothing like what many of these people face. A couple nights on the street living in my car in my teens and coming close several times later in life but I had a safety net of family and friends to help me out.”
Wesley said the ideas for Containers of Hope came to him in a dream.
“I woke up from a dream where we were having a barbecue surrounding be families I did not recognize,” he said. “Kids were playing and everyone was enjoying themselves. I recognized the woods and container houses in my dream and then typically as dreams go my perspective starts to change and I see the community from above.”
That dream gave Wesley the idea for the current proposed layout (pictured) and using non-traditional living quarters.
“I worked as a contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan for a total of 10 years and we lived in tents, bunkers, and storage containers,” he said. “This gave me the idea about recycling the containers as housing units for homeless families with children along with the metal building construction. We can do so much more with less utilizing non-traditional construction techniques that the military embraced overseas.”
The current proposed layout, which will be located on the Hausmanns’ personal property off Highway 20 on the Newton County/Henry County line, will be able to house up to 48 people – up to two adults and four children per unit.
“While there are several non-profit entities out there that are providing housing and assistance services to citizens ours is unique because we are using our own land to essentially create a self-sustaining micro community that we hope will be able to operate with minimal funding and traditional oversight,” he said. “We are fortunate enough to be in a position where we have land and a stable lifestyle but we are without significant means so we are looking to individuals and businesses to help us make our vision a reality.”
Wesley said plans for a Phase 2 to incorporate eight more containers are already in the beginning stages. He has also reached out to the University of Georgia (UGA) engineering department and his concept has been added as a design challenge for a Senior Capstone projects.
If selected, the student(s) will have the opportunity to be completely hands-on with the design of the Containers of Hope campus, including site visits and constant communication.
“We have the concept but are encouraging the student(s) to make it their own and make their own proposals to maximize space and utility to support the maximum amount of living units and community space while keeping with the spirit of the project,” he said. “The community will be capable of sustainment off-grid with solar power, a well, septic, community food source/garden, et cetera. Our thought process on this was to minimize operating costs to maximize benefits for the participants with minimum oversight. Our hope is that the plug and play aspect will make it easier for people to want to do the same by eliminating the operating costs of the facilities.”
Currently, Wesley said, he is working on obtaining a 501(c)(3) non-profit status for the organization.
“All donations now are going into a fund to help us setup the non-profit officially and then we can begin actively soliciting for donations for the construction,” he said. “What we are proposing is very unique and we, of course, need to protect ourselves legally so we also need a lawyer to help us navigate the setup and protect our interest.”
Wesley said he has already begun conversations with local businesses that are willing to donate their time and equipment to help make his dream a reality.
“I even have a contact to get all of the containers for free, which is unbelievable,” he said. “But, without the (501(c)(3)) status they cannot write off their contributions and have told me to contact them as soon as we have it to get things in motion.”