When Sandra Hermans was selected as one of the residents for a proposed tiny-home village at 38th and Walnut streets in RiNo, she was thrilled.The 27-year-old has been homeless since January, when she had to leave a friend's place where she’d been staying. Suddenly, Hermans found herself having to navigate Denver’s homeless shelters, and she quickly ran into a problem: Most shelters wouldn’t let her in because Hermans has three pet rats, which she adores and refuses to abandon.
“I can’t take them to shelters, because they’re not service animals,” Hermans explains. “That gives me zero options, because I can’t just leave them."
While experiencing homelessness for the first time in her life, Hermans has had to sneak the pets into various shelters. During times when she’s been caught, she’s been forced to sleep on the streets. In mid-February, her laptop was stolen while she camped out under a tree. Hermans was getting desperate.
Fortunately, she learned about a proposed tiny-home village that a coalition of homeless advocates, the Colorado Village Collaborative, has been working on for months. Sandra was one of fifty people who were interviewed by members of Denver Homeless Out Loud on February 18 for the opportunity to live in one of eleven tiny homes at 38th and Walnut streets.