NETT LAKE- As the Bois Forte Band has battled back against COVID-19, a valuable asset unavailable to most communities has been the Bois Forte Housing Department, which has offered up vacant units for …
NETT LAKE- As the Bois Forte Band has battled back against COVID-19, a valuable asset unavailable to most communities has been the Bois Forte Housing Department, which has offered up vacant units for individuals to isolate and quarantine.
Now the department is about to step up in a new way with the recent acquisition of three “tiny houses” that are currently being installed at Nett Lake, Vermilion, and Indian Point.
“They are one-bedroom, 432-square-foot housing units,” housing director Theresa Morrison said. “They’re initially set up to be isolation or quarantine units. You don’t want to get family members ill, so they’ll isolate or quarantine in that unit. Hopefully, we won’t have a lot of use for them.”
The original plan was to have the homes in place in October, but the date had to be pushed back when the manufacturer of the prefabricated units had its own outbreak of COVID-19 cases.
“Supply chains across the nation were disrupted,” Morrison said. “They just got set up the first week of December.”
A contractor was able to set the foundations for the homes in about two weeks, and the units were trucked in and lifted into place by a large crane.
A few more things need to be completed before the tiny homes are ready to use, Morrison said. Kitchen appliances are on order, and some furnishings will be transferred from other housing units. Other necessary items, such as cooking utensils, also are being procured.
Front porches also need to be constructed, but Morrison said she anticipates the houses will be ready soon for occupancy if needed.
“I’m anticipating that process would take another week or two,” she said. “Having them ready before Christmas is what I’m shooting for.”
The tribe endured a period where there were 16 active cases roughly split between Nett Lake and Vermilion, and Morrison said that through good coordination with tribal health services they were able to meet isolation and quarantine needs then. An important element of success came from families who were able to accommodate their isolation needs in their own homes while receiving additional supports.
“A lot of times families help each other out to make things work themselves,” she said. “We do coordinate anyone who will need to be isolated with health services.”
That coordination will involve extensive COVID-19 cleaning and disinfecting protocols after a temporary resident moves out and before another moves in, Morrison said.
With just one bedroom, a bathroom, and living room and kitchen areas, the units are small, but sufficiently big for an individual or a couple, Morrison said, and they should serve a purpose beyond the present pandemic.
“Hopefully, when this goes away, they will revert to our regular housing stock,” she said.