Tiny houses have gained popularity nationwide. While many families choose smaller homes to simplify their lives, the homeless population is also benefiting from the trend. The compact homes are being touted as affordable and environmentally friendly. Most importantly, tiny houses give the homeless shelter from the elements and a place they can call their own.
A majority of the homes are built by volunteers and the materials are often donated. As reported by KVUE News, the cost is significantly less than building or maintaining a large communal shelter. Although the residents have the benefit of their own home, they are required to adhere to specific rules.
Residents are expected to maintain their homes and stay out of trouble. While most tiny house communities prohibit disruptive behavior, many also have strict policies forbidding alcohol and drug use. For those willing the follow the rules, the new communities are a blessing.
Harold “Hap” Morgan is currently on a waiting list for a home in Madison, Wisconsin. His 99-square-foot house will certainly be small. However it will be his. Morgan can not wait to move in:
“You’re out of the elements, you’ve got your own bed, you’ve got your own place to call your own… It gives you a little bit of self-pride: This is my own house.”
In Madison, the homes and communities are being planned by Occupy Madison Build. Without donated materials, each home costs around $5,000 to build. The tiny houses include a double bed, one table, storage bins, and a separate room with a composting toilet. Although the homes have no running water or electricity, they are well insulated and can be heated using propane.
Although the initiative has gained a lot of support, some neighbors are concerned. Madison resident Linda Brown said the community is being built close to her existing home. Brown is worried about an increase in noise and crime:
“There have been people who have always been associated with people who are homeless that are unsavory types of people.”
Despite the expected criticism, tiny house communities are thriving throughout the nation. Some of the most successful communities have reduced homelessness in Washington, Oregon, New York, and Texas.
Opportunity Village in Eugene, Oregon, has been particularly successful. The village debuted in September 2013, with 30 tiny houses. The largest of the homes are 80 square feet and do not have toilets. However, communal buildings within the community provide electricity, running water, kitchens, showers, and toilets.
Representatives confirmed that Eugene’s community of tiny houses cost less than $100,000 to build and was entirely funded by private donors.
[Image via Flickr]