BY EMORY RAKESTRAW | PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALLISON POTTER
Eden Village, a 32-unit tiny home community located in the Creekwood area, when up and running,
will provide permanent housing and a fresh start for some of Wilmington’s chronically homeless.
A Place to Call Home
HOME is more than a literal place or shelter. Home is a
feeling, a comfort, a space to go when your bones are
tired and you’re ready to hang your hat for the day.
For over 500,000 Americans, this is more of a dream
than reality. That’s how many homeless people there were in the
2019 count — those who have no
Tom and Kim Dalton saw the
need in the Wilmington commu-nity
and wanted to create homes
for those without. They both have
a background in the medical field
and used their belief that housing is
healthcare to propel their vision.
“If you take someone who has
diabetes, high blood pressure, these
basic things where you or I might
treat them and live a normal life,
they’re very difficult to regulate on
the streets,” Dr. Tom Dalton says.
“Insulin has to be refrigerated, you
have to have a place to store your
medicine and a machine to check
your blood pressure. And when
you’re in a tent on 15th Street, that
just doesn’t happen.”
The Daltons started researching solutions and discovered Eden
Village in their hometown of Springfield, Missouri. Opened in
August of 2018, the tiny home community provided permanent
housing for 31 individuals, with 29 of the original residents still
The couple formed an official partnership with Eden Village and
Nate Schlueter, chief visionary officer. Schlueter provided funda-mental
Tom Brown, left, and Kim and Tom Dalton of Eden
Village were on site at Kornegay Avenue to see the
arrival of the nonprofit’s first home in Wilmington on
January 13, 2021.
tools like business models and website development. They
also brought on Tom Brown, a retired Wilmington CPA with ties to
the Springfield location, as board member and treasurer.
Brown worked to increase grant funding and was able to
speedily secure 501(c) nonprofit status for Eden Village of
Wilmington. His current focus is on donors and fundraising.
“We need families, civic groups, churches and corporate enti-ties
to join us and sponsor each home individually,” Brown says.
First slated for a 2020 opening, Eden Village of Wilmington
now hopes to open in early 2022. The first tiny home arrived
in January 2021. It’s a model to the community and potential
donors to cast the vision of what could be.
The 450-square-foot home features a front porch with swing.
Inside, there is a cozy living room and full kitchen with all the
necessities to make a meal from the community garden. The bed-room
radiates comfort with décor, linens and a dresser. Everything
is predesigned and provided to
ensure tenants have a smooth
The courtyard-style living commu-nity
will be entered through a gate.
A community center will house a first
aid room, office space, and serve as a
place where social workers and vol-unteers
can meet with residents.
Assisting with the process of vet-ting
applicants (there’s already been
over 200 inquiries and applications)
are social workers Ursula Greene and
Donna Evans. Qualifications for res-idency
include a history of chronic
homelessness along with a physical
or mental disability.
In Springfield, one resident
became homeless after selling her
home to afford a nursing facility for
her husband. She lived in her car for five years before becoming
one of the first residents of the original Eden Village.
The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness
and the National Alliance to End Homelessness both list North
Carolina as having more than 9,000 homeless, with more than 300
on the streets on any given night in New Hanover, Pender and
Dalton and Brown look forward to Wilmington’s success stories.
“When you have 20-30 people together, where everyone knows
everyone’s name, and they’ve all been through this horrible expe-rience
of being homeless, they serve as a support system within,”
For now, there’s plenty of ways to get involved. Outside of
donations and funding, anyone interested can sign up online to
volunteer for yard and garden work or as a hands-on home or
“We will never house everyone — we have a realistic under-standing
of that — but we want to give people hope,” Dalton says.
“Eden Village is an idea that can spread across the nation.”