Photo Credit: Brian J. Reynolds
Author: Linda Federico-O’Murchu
Published in: NBC News.com, February 26, 2014
Summary: Organizations in parts of the U.S. are building miniature, portable houses, or “tiny houses,” to address chronic homelessness in their communities.
Why We’re Highlighting This Article: The causes of chronic homelessness are complex, and traditional responses are subject to wavering political will, opposing interests and shrinking budgets–all of which have made homelessness one of society’s most intractable problems. This piece highlights an alternative, bottoms-up response that is gaining traction in some communities, in which insulated and portable “tiny houses” are provided to the chronically homeless.
While the cost to build a tiny house varies, Occupy Madison, one of the organizations featured in Federico-O’Murchu’s piece, claims to have built their first tiny house for $5000. The cost can be substantially less, as in the case of a California designer who builds tiny houses using salvaged materials found on the street. His cost, he says, is less than $100. The houses, which can be less than 100 square feet in size, are often built by volunteers and funded by private donations, making them a potentially faster and more affordable way to house the homeless than going through the usual political channels. Tiny houses may also help alleviate another problem: the use of jail cells as emergency shelter.
”A 2011 report published by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty says local governments routinely criminalize activities that go hand-in-hand with living on the street, such as sleeping in public spaces and loitering. Incarceration costs taxpayers $34,480 per inmate per year, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “
This piece does a lot of things that a good solutions story does. [Read more...]