By Kayla Evans
For the Opelika Observer

On March 12, business owner Emily Key is hosting a showcase to show the Lee County community what a tiny house is like.

Key started her nonprofit, Key Living Solutions, in 2020 and has been pushing for the Opelika zoning to accommodate tiny houses. As of right now, city ordinances will not allow any house under 800 square feet, and Key is aiming for the houses she builds to be 400 square feet.

The event will be held at Bubba’s Medicine Shop located at 512 2nd Ave. in Opelika. A ribbon cutting ceremony with the Chamber of Commerce will be at 10:30 a.m. The showcase house is only 280 square feet and will give people a realistic vision of what a tiny house will look like.

“Instead of trying to show [pictures of] houses to explain it, I just decided to build one and show them that way,” Key said. “I’ve built a 280-square-foot home on a trailer, and I will be pulling it up to Bubba’s Medicine Shop to have a big showcase for everyone to stop by, walk in it and look at what it would be like to live in something that small. It is an effort to show the community that tiny houses are an option for the affordable housing crisis that we have. They are a solution.”

The one-bedroom house will be an affordable place for people. Rent will be one dollar per square foot. Key wants to create a “tiny house village” so that the residents have a community. Key bought 1.6 acres in Beauregard, just outside Opelika city limits, to start the first tiny house village.

Key has gotten a lot of support from the people in Lee county with donations and community involvement.

“I am already seeing a lot of community involvement, both in donations and from inquisitive neighbors,” Key said. “It is moving along, and it seems like people in the community believe in it and know that we do need affordable housing. It’s just a matter of proving that to the city.”

Multiple businesses have committed to being a part of this project. Kirkleys Floor Covering Inc., Turner Fencing, Lowe’s, Sensigreen, Sir Wash-a-Lot, TNT Maintenance & Painting, Inc., JBryan Builders and Baker Fence Co. will all have a hand in making affordable places for residents of Lee County.