With roughly 554,000 homeless people living in the U.S. last year, our homeless problem has statistically gotten worse despite strong economic growth. Nonprofits with a duty to help their neighbors may have found a potential solution in the Tiny Home market.
What is a Tiny Home?
Tiny homes have grown in popularity over the past two decades as a way to minimize your environmental footprint, simplify your life and curb your debt. Small units cost only $2,500 to build, while larger units cost 10x as much.
Structure of Tiny Home Communities
For the homeless, many nonprofits are taking a micro-community approach to housing the unsheltered in tiny homes. The movement began in the Pacific Northwest, but has expanded to cities and towns in Texas, New York, Michigan, Tennessee and Georgia.
Smaller models feature individual restrooms, showers and kitchenettes, while larger units feature communal kitchens and bath houses that residents share. Some even have community gardens. A tiny home gives people a sense of privacy and independence. For the homeless with social anxiety and other related issues, the option of privacy can be a relief in comparison to life in a homeless shelter.
Some tiny homes for the homeless are rent-free, while others require a small fee. For the most part, these living quarters are designed as a means for people to get back on their feet. Transitional living quarters like these allow people who have fallen down on their luck to find a job and save some money without questioning where they will sleep at night.
The Building Process
Volunteer workforces are mostly responsible for construction and development of tiny homes for the homeless.
The projects are funded by private donors, individuals, charities, faith-based entities and non-profit organizations. Organizations like the Low Income Housing Institute are also jumping on board.
Zoning regulations in some states are leading to challenges in relation to where tiny houses can be built, but people are hopeful that regulations will soon be altered.
I know some people are criticizing the initiative of building tiny homes for the homeless, but the truth is that millions of Americans are just one paycheck away from being homeless. Many people affected by homelessness are children, the elderly and military veterans.
Journalist and political activist Barbara Ehrenreich puts it this way: “Poverty is not a character failing or a lack of motivation. Poverty is a shortage of money.” Sometimes people need a little help to get back on their feet, and the growth of tiny homes is showing promise in terms of sheltering those who need help.