What is the Tiny Homes Village?

The Tiny Homes Village is a demonstration project that is aimed at developing a new affordable housing option for people with mental illness and other health conditions living on a fixed income. The village will include 15 tiny homes. Each tiny home will be about 400 square feet and each will be built on a permanent foundation. The Tiny Homes Village is being developed through a public/private partnership that is led by XDS Inc., a local nonprofit and the UNC School of Social Work. The Tiny Homes Village will also include community amenities that foster activities and interactions among residents, such as a clubhouse, walking trails and an outdoor pavilion. The Tiny Homes Village will be located on the grounds of The Farm at Penny Lane, an alternative therapeutic farm. This location provides residents with access to healthy food, meaningful daily activities, transportation and physical health and behavioral health services.


Tiny Homes Team

Thava Mahadevan, Founder and Director

Thava MahadevanDirector of Operations, UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health
Executive Director of XDS, Inc.

Thava Mahadevan, MS, LCAS, is a member of the clinical faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), and serves as the Director of Operations for the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health. The Center, based in the UNC-CH School of Medicine, provides community-based services to approximately 2,000 individuals in the Triangle area with serious mental health conditions, addictive disorders, or intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Mahadevan is also the Founding Executive Director of XDS, Inc., a North Carolina nonprofit organization based in Chatham County that assists individuals with multiple disabilities. With more than 25 years of public mental health experience working with individuals with multiple disabilities, he has extensive expertise in designing and implementing innovative community-based treatment programs. He received a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and psychology from UNC-CH and is a Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist.

Mahadevan is the founder of the Farm at Penny Lane, a health-wellness-recovery initiative for people with serious mental illness, which not only focuses on promoting and maximizing individuals’ social, cognitive, physical, and psychological functioning but also facilitates entrepreneurship. Mahadevan is also the founder of the UNC PAWS program, a peer-assisted wellness service that trains rescue dogs as support dogs for people with disabilities. Currently, he is spearheading a Tiny Homes initiative in Chatham County as a demonstration project to provide sustainable permanent and affordable supportive housing for people affected by serious mental illness.

Amy Blank Wilson, Co-director

Amy Blank WilsonAmy Blank Wilson, PhD, MSW, is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After earning her doctorate in social welfare from the University of Pennsylvania, she accepted a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) postdoctoral fellowship at the Rutgers University Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research. She also has extensive experience as social worker in the public mental health system, which informs her research and adds critical real-world perspective. She has been the principal investigator or co-investigator on more than 11 studies examining the mental health and criminal justice systems. Her research has been funded by federal and state agencies as well as major foundations. Soon after Dr. Blank Wilson became involved with the Tiny Homes Village at the Farm at Penny Lane, she was selected from the entire UNC-CH faculty to receive a C. Felix Harvey Award, which honors faculty whose work directly and positively impacts constituencies outside the University. The award enabled her to lead an interdisciplinary team of researchers and service providers in a mixed-methods process evaluation that aimed to determine the best approach for the design and development of the Tiny Homes and surrounding community. Notably, a core design element of the project was eliciting feedback from a variety of community stakeholders, including persons with the lived experience of mental illnesses, thus ensuring their voices would inform a design to facilitate recovery and community integration. Dr. Wilson’s work on this project led to her appointment as the Co-director of the Tiny Homes Village. Her current project responsibilities focus on developing and integrating scholarship into the design, development, and funding of the Tiny Homes Village.

Tiny Homes Village at the Farm at Penny Lane Roles and Responsibilities

Tiny Homes Village at the Farm at Penny Lane Roles and Responsibilities