Close to people | Stories from Bethel

Small home with great potential

Mike Ertel raises his eyes to the ceiling, spreads his arms out and turns round. Then he says: "When I first came in here, I immediately fell in love with the Tiny House." He has been living in the mini home, which is located in the garden of Bethel.regional's Billerbeckstraße building in Witten-Heven, since August 2021. The 45-year-old, who has a mental illness and lived on the streets for many years, feels more at home in his 18 square metres than he has for a long time. The alternative form of housing has helped him to stabilise.

Mike Ertel in his kitchen
The Tiny House is located in the garden of the Billerbeckstraße centre

Mike Ertel's accommodation is tiny for a house. Tiny, as they say in English. Nevertheless, the interior of the little house is spacious and contains everything you need: bed and sofa, table and kitchenette, wardrobe and bathroom. In addition to the light-coloured wood of the walls and ceiling, the interior of the mini house is dominated by royal blue. It's clear that the resident is a supporter of FC Schalke 04 and Mike Ertel has made his home cosy with bed linen, scarves, a flag, posters and postcards in the design of the Gelsenkirchen football club. "I like the fact that I can still smell the fresh wood of the house. And I like the splashing sound when it rains on the roof," he says. "I'm well furnished and I'm happy to live here every day."

After almost nine years without a permanent home and a stay in a psychiatric ward, Mike Ertel moved into Haus Billerbeckstraße, a residential facility for adults with chronic mental illness, in January 2020. He initially moved into a flat, but quickly expressed his interest, even in writing, when the opportunity arose to move into the newly constructed Tiny House. This is because Mike Ertel sometimes finds the large building with space for 20 residents too lively and noisy. He prefers it quiet. "I have my peace and quiet here," he says.

Mike Ertel stands in his living room with a cup
"I'm happy every day that I live here."
Mike Ertel
Mike Ertel and Barbara Kristen stand in front of the Tiny House
Mike Ertel and Barbara Kristen chat in the garden of Billerbeckstraße in front of the Tiny House.

Barbara Kristen, Head of Division at the Billerbeckstraße home, believes that this form of housing, which Bethel is now using for the first time, is an opportunity for clients to take an intermediate step on the way to their own home. "At the same time, it also allows us to create living space for clients who have particularly high support needs and difficulties living with others and accessing conventional support services," she explains. Barbara Kristen explains the special potential of the Tiny House as follows: "The Tiny House is particularly suitable for people with severe chronic mental illnesses. This is because it is a particularly good way of combining a self-determined lifestyle in their own, manageable living environment with access to support services."

Mike Ertel is now looking forward to the summer. He would like to put tubs on the small terrace in front of his home. "I'll put sunflowers in there," he says: "It should be nice."


Text: Philipp Kreutzer | Photos: Christian Weische

This story simply told

Mike Ertel has a mental illness. The 45-year-old lived on the streets for many years. Today, he lives in a Bethel housing programme, a "Tiny House". This translates as "tiny house". His accommodation is very small for a house. But it contains everything he needs. Mike Ertel feels very comfortable in his new home.

Would you like to find out more?


Haus Billerbeckstraße

Billerbeckstraße 48
58455 Witten

Barbara Kristen
Area management

02302 2052252
0178 6209810

To the website of the facility

Offers & services

The "Haus Billerbeckstraße" programme is aimed at adult citizens and young adults with a (chronic) mental illness from Witten and the Ennepe-Ruhr district. Bethel supports clients in organising their everyday lives and planning their lives. In the Witten district of Heven, Bethel offers 16 single flats with their own kitchen and shower room as well as four single rooms in a residential group in a barrier-free house.

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