Woman waiting for a kidney moves into tiny house built by teens


ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — It has taken longer than expected for students at Connally High School to sell a tiny home they built nearly two years ago, but the right buyer has come along.

Shortly after KXAN covered the construction in September of 2015, the school tried to auction off the home but had no luck. They also listed it on Craigslist. That’s when Devony Wilmot first spotted the ad, but didn’t have a need for a 500 square foot home at the time.

She reached out to KXAN this week to let us know she and her husband recently purchased the home for her 27-year-old sister, Dawn Jackson.

“[Devony] loves a good deal,” said Jackson. “So having just a regular tiny house was not going to be satisfactory. She had to find one that was made by high school students.”

Jackson was diagnosed with Lupus at the age of 13, and a few years later it started affecting her kidneys. She went into kidney failure two years ago, and does peritoneal dialysis at home seven nights a week. She uses more than 900 pounds of medical supplies each month.

After searching for an affordable place to live, Wilmot said the tiny home was the best financial option and the safest place for her to be to take care of herself.

“I actually work in commercial real estate and affordable housing is such a huge crisis here in Austin for people who don’t make a livable wage or for people who are disabled,” said Wilmot. “And we were just trying to figure out what can we do to help her to keep her independence and her dignity, but still be able to have rent that she can afford on her disability income?”

Wilmot and her husband had the house moved to their large backyard in Round Rock a couple of months ago, and have been getting it all fixed up.

Jackson toured the home before it was moved from the high school parking lot, but her family has been keeping the makeover a secret.

“Furniture is constantly being delivered, and I’m not supposed to see it so it’s been a really big tease,” Jackson said with a laugh. “I don’t think I’ve wanted to ever see something this much in my entire life.”

Friday night, they held a reveal party. Tears filled Jackson’s eyes when she walked inside her new home for the first time.

“This is the best gift ever,” said Jackson.

The ultimate gift — a kidney transplant — could still be three to four years away.

“Our hope is that she doesn’t have to spend the rest of her life in our backyard, but she’s welcome to stay for as long as she needs to,” said Wilmot. “We just want her to be able to live out the life of a normal 27-year-old.”

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