Tiny Houses: Big Idea to End Homelessness

smallhouses

Advocates tackling the nation’s homeless problem are thinking small

Linda Federico-O’Murchu  reports:  In Austin, Texas, a village of 200 tiny houses is being built for the homeless. In upstate New York, Rochester Greenovation has designed a prototype for small-scale individualized shelters. “Homeless No More Survival Pods” have been built in Utah, micro-pods in Florida, miniature homes in Wisconsin and mini mobile houses in California.

“I think this is a solution for now…Our first house cost $5,000 to make, and we did it without asking for government help.”

The “Tiny House Movement,” once an architectural component to a downsized life, is now becoming something much bigger: an escape from chronic homelessness.

Brian J Reynolds A woman is seen in a shelter built by California artist Gregory Kloehn in Oakland.

A woman is seen in a shelter built by California artist Gregory Kloehn in Oakland.   Brian J. Reynolds

“This is a plan that could revolutionize the housing movement in the United States,” declares Alan Graham, 58, a Texas activist who says his self-founded organization, Community First, has already lifted 100 homeless people off the streets.

“Now, I can roll my house down the street. Now the police don’t give me a hard time. I keep my house clean and I have no problems.”

“The city of Austin loves us,” he says. “They think we’re on the verge of breaking the code.”

California artist Gregory Kloen, who builds small portable homes using salvaged materials, says an inexpensive structure is a way to keep someone safe and out of jail.  Brian J Reynolds

California artist Gregory Kloen, who builds small portable homes using salvaged materials, says an inexpensive structure is a way to keep someone safe and out of jail.     Brian J Reynolds

Occupy Madison, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement based in Madison, Wis., finished building its first fully functional tiny house last month. The 98-square-foot structure, complete with a bed, toilet and tiny kitchen, will serve as a template for 40 homes to follow, says Brenda Konkel, an Occupy Madison board member. It is hoped that the project, which depends on volunteer labor and community donations, eventually will end homelessness in their city.

“I think this is a solution for now,” says Konkel. “Our first house cost $5,000 to make, and we did it without asking for government help.”

But California artist Gregory Kloehn, 43, says there’s an even cheaper and faster way. For the past several years, Kloehn has singlehandedly built small, portable homes using salvaged materials he finds on the street. His cost? Less than $100 each.

“Stuff people just throw away on the street can give someone a viable home,” says Kloehn, whose environmentally friendly structures are made of everything from wooden pallets to refrigerator parts. Kloehn’s unique, whimsical designs are both artistic (“I make them cute and funny”) and practical (“I want them to work well, be strong and watertight.”)

“Now, I can roll my house down the street. Now the police don’t give me a hard time. I keep my house clean and I have no problems.”

Most importantly, each Kloehn design is a thoughtful response to the problems faced daily by the homeless people in his community. For example, Oakland’s public safety laws require municipal workers to periodically sweep up and destroy the belongings of people living on the streets, something Kloehn hopes to circumvent with his mobile home designs….Read More>>

NBC News.com


3 Comments on “Tiny Houses: Big Idea to End Homelessness”

  1. […] Pundit from another Planet Advocates tackling the nation’s homeless problem are thinking small Linda […]


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