Anderson University Helping Develop Affordable Housing for Community

Anderson University School of Interior Design students are among those from the university helping develop a 'tiny house' project in the city of Anderson. Officials hope it is the first step in developing affordable housing options in the city without the risk of gentrification.

Interior design students from Anderson University are supporting Leadership Anderson Class 35 and the LOT Project in building the first “tiny home” in the city.

The tiny house will serve as a model to inspire a community-wide movement toward adequate, affordable housing desperately needed for the revitalization of former mill neighborhoods across Anderson County, officials said.

Robyn Sanderson, Associate Vice President for Student Development at Anderson University, is one of 29 members of this year’s Leadership Anderson class developing the project. She worked with Anderson University School of Interior Design professor Erica Bartels to have students craft the interior of the tiny house. Students Sarah Violette, Ashley Michalak and Joye Gaba were anonymously nominated by their peers to present their plans to Leadership Anderson Class 35 as options for furnishing the home.

Sanderson said that service-learning experiences such as these are phenomenal at helping shape and model the student’s educational experience.

“I am grateful that AU allowed me to represent our institution by serving as the AU representative in the Leadership Anderson Class 35,” Sanderson said. “Our Leadership class is deeply concerned about providing better alternatives for housing for a number of homeless individuals in our area, along with those members of our community that live in unsafe housing in the community. I sincerely hope it will also serve as a catalyst to bring other, more affordable options so that we can provide housing for all of our residents, especially the children of our community.”

The plans for the tiny house project were announced at Toast ‘N Topics, an event sponsored by the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce and held at Anderson University. City of Anderson Chief Building Official Alan Eklund has signed off on the architectural plans and a general contractor has been secured. The LOT Project, a community-support organization, will take over management of the home after Anderson Leadership Class 35 graduates in June. The tiny home, which will be constructed on a quarter-acre vacant lot on 308 E Street, reportedly will be the first home constructed on the “alphabet streets” since 1985.

Leadership Anderson is now reaching out to the local community to raise the approximately $75,000 worth of materials and labor needed to complete the project. The class hopes to raise funds by the end of April and complete construction by June. The class created a website where interested individuals, organizations and corporations can learn more and donate online at andersontinyhome.com. Checks (made payable to Foothills Community Foundation with “LA35 Tiny Home” in the memo) may also be mailed to Leadership Anderson Tiny Home Fund, c/o Foothills Community Foundation, P.O. Box 1228, Anderson, SC 29622. The class is facilitating opportunities for permanent recognition for significant contributions.

Class members of Leadership Anderson Class 35 said the project is one of the most ambitious annual class projects Leadership Anderson has taken on since the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce established the program in 1984.