Christian tiny home builder sued for fraud

Matt Sowash
Matthew Sowash is the founder and CEO of Holy Ground Tiny Homes in Colorado. |

An ex-convict businessman who claims to have found Jesus and changed his life while serving time in prison for fraud is being sued by would-be smallholders after collecting thousands of dollars in payout, but doesn’t failed to build them the tiny houses that his company advertises. as low as $29,900.

Businessman, Matt Sowash, founder of the Colorado-based nonprofit Holy Land Real Estatewhose testimony of conversion can be seen on youtubeexplained in a video posted in 2017 that God showed him how to “create a business to support ministry and a ministry to support business.”

“He showed me how to build a business to support the ministry and the ministry to support the businesses and make them work together,” he said.

Sowash launched Holy Ground Tiny Homes in July 2020 as a tax-exempt charity, The The Denver Post reported. His charity’s website promises to “build big dreams with tiny homes”, ranging in size from 14ft to 32ft and priced at a fraction of the cost of traditional homes.

The biggest tiny homes can cost up to $60,000, while the median home price in the US was $428,700 from the first quarter of 2022.

The self-proclaimed born-again developer heavily promoted small houses to his nearly 80,000 followers on TikTok, and orders poured in.

Among those who placed orders is Clara Virginia Davis, a 24-year-old elementary school teacher in upstate New York.

Davis, who filed one of the lawsuits against Sowash, says BNC News that his “charming” personality and declared love of God convinced her to send him $42,000 in January for an 8-by-28-foot modular home. He promised to deliver the house on August 1, but he never did.

“I gave him my life savings,” Davis told NBC News.

Responding to Davis’ claims, Sowash told the news network that he tried to call Davis about the house, but only heard of a lawyer trying to find a settlement. He further claimed that Davis’ house was not supposed to be completed until October and that construction was due to begin weeks ago.

A small house is described as a dwelling generally less than 600 square feet, according to Tiny House Ideas.

A survey conducted by IPX 1031 found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 86% of American first-time home buyers said they were open to buying a “tiny house” as their first home, highlighting their affordability, efficiency and their respect for the environment.

Since 2001, home classifieds have grown an average of 8.6% per year. More than 1.4 million households can be classified as “tiny”.

Robyn Bellamy and her husband Mark Bellamy, who live in Oregon, also filed a complaint against Holy Ground Real Estate of Sowash in June.

Robyn Bellamy alleges she paid Sowash $47,924.75 in the spring of 2021. But when he failed to deliver the house, she demanded that “Holy Ground refund him the money or build his Tiny Home immediately”, according to the trial.

“Holy Ground responded that they would only reimburse him if the company could sell his unbuilt Tiny Home to someone else,” the filing notes.

In May 2021, Mark Bellamy signed an installment agreement with Holy Ground “for the design, sale and delivery in Oregon” of his own tiny home for $32,477 to be paid over one year.

Mark Bellamy had paid a total of $21,646.50 for the house when Holy Ground told him his tiny home wouldn’t be ready until October 2021. That date was later moved to December 2021 and then February 2022.

“When it became apparent to Mr. Bellamy in early 2022 that the supposed February production would not take place, he stopped making the remaining installments on the construction contract. In early February 2022, Mr. Bellamy demanded whether Holy Ground produces his tiny house within 30 days or provide him with a full refund of his money. Holy Ground did neither,” the lawsuit states.

Sowash told NBC News that the Bellamys were on the “construction list” and that when he tried to contact them to start building their homes, “they said to keep in touch with their attorney.”

Lori Birckhead, a Tennessee woman who took out a loan and wired $46,500 to Holy Ground in April for a tiny house that should have been delivered in July, told the Denver Post that she thinks Sowash took her money knowing he had no intention of delivering the house as promised while continuing to market his bogus promise to unsuspecting new customers.

“He took my money knowing, ‘I’m not going to give this woman a home anytime soon, if ever. There’s no doubt about it now,” said Birckhead, who said he was told his tiny home would be delivered in 27 to 30 months.

Several complaints from other disgruntled customers were also shared on the Better Business Bureau Page for Holy Ground, which received an “F” grade.

Holy Ground Real Estate did not respond to the Christian Post’s request for comment.

On another website operated by Sowash called Race for Glorywhich includes a race ministry (reality show), a garage ministry and a rescue ranch, Sowash said, “We use proceeds from our non-profit company, Holy Ground Tiny Homes, to fund our many projects and ministries.”

According BNC Newslender Kinetic Direct Funding also filed a complaint against Sowash on September 2 in state court in Brooklyn, New York.

Sowash told the News Network that he took out a $400,000 loan from the lender to build the tiny homes, but could not keep up with the payments due to high interest rates.

“I just couldn’t do it,” he said.

In an Aug. 31 letter to customers, Sowash said home deliveries had been delayed for three years. He said he has delivered more than 250 homes in the past 20 months, and nearly 100 have sold at a loss of $8,000 to $10,000 each due to high material costs.

“The past few months have been very exhausting in terms of the struggles to make sure everyone gets the house they ordered” or receives a refund, Sowash noted.

In 2006, Sowash co-founded a free amateur poker league in Denver. He was convicted in 2009 to five years in prison for defrauding league investors of more than $470,000. He claims he had a spiritual awakening in prison.

In 2019, Sowash said God whispered to him during a moment of frustration and said, “Matt, build a little house.”

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