There are hundreds of abandoned homes in Grand Rapids, Mich., according to Fast Company writer Adele Peters. So a nonprofit called Well House is taking those abandoned homes and fixing them up in order to provide the city's homeless community with a place to live.

Buying an abandoned house and fixing it up costs the organization between $40,000 and $95,000 and takes three to six months, depending on how badly the home has fallen apart. While contractors do specialized work, tenants and volunteers do the rest.

Each tenant in the home has their own room with a lock and a mini fridge, and costs $275 for including utilities and access to common areas.

It's an example of the "housing first" model of addressing homelessness, which argues that if homeless people are going to solve other problems in their lives—from unemployment to addiction—they need a stable place to live first. "Addressing the primary need, housing, allows our tenants to begin to recover from the trauma of living on the street, and begin to rebuild their lives," says Tami Vandenberg, executive director of Well House.

The organization has purchased 10 houses from a local land bank since 2013, and of the 121 people who have moved into the homes over the last few years, 29 have moved on to their own apartments.

Read more >