John Louiselle and Jesse Lammi first met and became friends playing hockey when they were 11 years old. Now 24, Louiselle and Lammi are business partners: They developed and co-founded the startup company NextDoor Housing, which provides (for sale or rent) so-called "tiny homes" for aging and/or disabled adults.

For both, their new business venture is personal.

"We both started this company because a growing number of people are ending up in institutional care when they don't need to be, when they can and should be living closer to their loved ones," said Louiselle. "Both of us watched our grandparents and parents make tough decisions about where they should live as their health declined. They ended up in nursing homes, away from all of us."

As a result, Louiselle and Lammi decided to be part of the solution and develop housing that they believe can change the narrative for countless families. "Our goal with NextDoor Housing is to change the story for as many aging adults as possible," added Louiselle. "We want them to have options to stay in their communities and near their families. That's the bottom line for us."

The idea of purchasing or renting a tiny home is a trend that's spreading from coast to coast, Louiselle and Lammi say. More and more people, they say, are looking to "downsize" their lives and free themselves of the debt, maintenance and other headaches of traditional home ownership. "The tiny home trend encourages individuals to live a simpler, greener and more convenient life," said Louiselle. "Our business is taking the tiny house movement to the next level by serving and focusing on another demographic."

Lousielle and Lammi began developing their idea in 2014. Their research and planning took roughly six months. They were also awarded a $342,000 grant from the state Department of Human Services.

"We pretty much designed our units from top to bottom, interior and exterior, and they combine the convenience of an RV with the craftsmanship of a house," said Lousielle. "It's been a learning experience, to say the least. We got the grant because there's a huge need for alternative housing for seniors. Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have waiting lists, and rehab units are overflowing. What we can do is provide that transitional housing."

Each unit is 240 square feet, has a peaked shingled roof and seven windows, is 30 ft long and 8 ft wide and is designed to accommodate wheelchairs (bathrooms, for example, have wheel-in shower stalls). Electricity comes from a plug-in connection, and water comes from a hookup with a garden hose. A system filters and disperses all sink and shower water. Each model is fully mobile and can be hauled with a standard pickup.

According to Louiselle, the sale price for each unit starts at $50,000 and "goes up from there depending on how much customizing the client wants." The average sale price is $58,000. Rental prices start at about $1,500 per month. "When you look at monthly expenditures at a nursing home or an assisted-living facility, our price point for renting is comparable and oftentimes cheaper," said Louiselle.

Louiselle said NextDoor units can be also used for businesses that are looking for job-site housing for workers. "We've even had some church officials contact us who are interested in temporary housing for the homeless," he said. "Our tiny homes can provide multiple uses."

Because NextDoor units are not permanent structures, they're not zoned as houses and are subject to RV parking rules, which, Louiselle says, are different from city to city. "Whatever the case, we will help customers figure out the ins and outs of using our units so that they comply with existing city rules," said Louiselle. "We're actively working with local officials to make this happen, because the need for this type of transitional housing is so great. I think everyone recognizes that."

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Tori J. McCormick is a freelance writer in Prior Lake.