Stillwell to lead translational research initiative for new tiny home community


Written by

Ashlynn Stillwell
Ashlynn Stillwell

A community of tiny homes for medically fragile, chronically homeless individuals will open in 2024/2025 in Urbana, with CEE Associate Professor Ashlynn Stillwell leading the effort to incorporate translational research from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) into the project.

Hope Village is being developed on an eight-acre plot of former farmland in north Urbana. The community of tiny homes will provide “hard to house” individuals access to health care and other supportive services in a neighborhood community atmosphere. It is a first-of-its-kind collaboration among Carle Health, Champaign County Health Care Consumers and UIUC.

“The university is excellent when it comes to the aspects of translational research – how do we take the fundamental research and the discoveries that we have at the University and get that out into the public sphere where it can really make a difference,” Stillwell said.

Much of the research to be incorporated is related to sustainability.

“I came to this through a lot of the work that my students and I have been doing in research with sustainable water and energy systems and how that relates to infrastructure,” Stillwell said, “so in addition to the tiny homes aspect, we’re trying to do this as sustainably as possible.”

Some of the planned sustainability features include:

  • Energy sustainability with solar panels with innovative microinverters and geothermal technology for space heating and air conditioning
  • Water sustainability with low-flow fixtures and smart leak detection
  • Landscape sustainability with on-site stormwater management and native plants
  • Building sustainability with trauma-informed design, sustainable building materials and design for healthcare innovations

Trauma-informed design is an attempt to create a peaceful, calming atmosphere in recognition of the fact that many previously unhoused individuals have experienced trauma.

For more information about Hope Village, visit

Architect's rendering of Hope Village (previous page) courtesy of Architectural Expressions.

Share this story

This story was published January 19, 2024.