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Tiny houses for the homeless?

Do Tiny Houses Offer an Innovative Solution to Affordable Housing?

Did you know? 

Throughout the US, tiny houses have become an efficient and affordable alternative for the homeless. In recent years, non-profit organizations such as Sancho Panza and Occupy Madison, Inc. have assembled together to support and sponsor these affordable homes. With the help of thousands of volunteers that have joined the philanthropic movement and the building materials which have been donated, these organizations have found much success in building tiny house villages. Could similar success be found here in RI?

Tiny House Villages

In Olympia, Washington, the tiny house community Quixote Village was built in 2013. At approximately, $88,000 per unit, the 30 structures in the village houses 29 disabled adults. With a focus on maintaining a close knit community and project affordability, residents share communal areas such as bathrooms, gardens, laundry and kitchens. Other tiny house living organizations like Occupy Madison, have gone even further, committing to eco-friendly facilities including a composting toilet, a propane heater and a solar panel array.

Taxpayers’ Benefits

Not only do these homes provide a place of refuge for the homeless, but government officials in several states have recognized that these homes have become a viable solution for cost reductions for systems of public care. The chronically homeless (those who are homeless for long periods of time) burden public systems providing medical services, temporary shelter, and costs associated with arrests and incarceration. But the way the system works now, it’s nearly impossible to break the cycle. With our public resources being too often allocated toward “bandaid” remedies as opposed to true solutions, changing the trajectory of the homeless is currently considered a rare success here in RI. But according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, studies have shown that the cost to provide permanent homes is equivalent or less costly than allowing them to remain homeless. With tiny home communities being successfully implemented to aid housing needs elsewhere, perhaps it is time for Rhode Island to take a closer look.

Affordable Houses Catching On

In recognizing the affordability of tiny houses, the tiny house movement has become a trend for those that are looking to not only downsize their material items but also their cost of living. But real policy change requires greater public awareness of the research, insight, and growing consensus among policy makers that it is cheaper to give homeless people homes to live in than to let the homeless live on the streets and try to deal with the subsequent problems. Whether or not the public support for tiny homes as a potential solution for homelessness will truly catch on here remains to be seen.

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