Tiny Home Villages: Who Will Host Them?

Imagine if hosting a transitional tiny home village for the homeless became the norm for all suitable vacant land?
November 21, 2017, 5am PST | Keli_NHI
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A tiny house made of matchsticks, on display at the Milwaukee Public Museum's European Village exhibit.
Jeff Christiansen

Last time I was in Atlanta, I stayed near a spot where dozens, probably hundreds, of homeless people would congregate on the sidewalks in a couple block radius around a center that served their needs. There we many things striking about this, but I remember one of the things that bothered me was the two large empty lots on the corner, which had signs on them expressly forbidding entrance or camping. One still had the foundation of a previous building, so though totally open to the sky, it still would have been a mildly sheltered and slightly more private place to be. Since the lots weren’t fenced off, and yet were empty, while the sidewalks were crowded, I had to assume that those signs were backed up by aggressive enforcement. Yuck.

Some folks in Denver are trying to do a little better. At the Intersections conference last month, the Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) and design group Radian, gave a brief presentation in the Ignite pitch session on the Beloved Community village. Beloved Community is a self-governed tiny home village for those transitioning out of homelessness, especially those not served by the shelter system. People with pets, couples, transgender folks, and people trying to stay sober, for example, can all find themselves either not welcome or not safe in shelters, and are therefore among the priorities for acceptance into the Beloved Community village. Various organizations provide supportive services to the residents, who share the work of maintaining the community.

ULC has some land that they will be building permanently affordable housing on—but that for now is sitting vacant while the predevelopment work happens. ULC director Aaron Miripol said that while ULC’s work aims to reduce the housing crisis over the long term by increasing affordable housing, there is also the very immediate question of what to do for people who are homeless now. As we’ve written about before, tiny home villages are one life-saving answer to that question. But they need somewhere to be.

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Published on Monday, November 20, 2017 in Shelterforce/Rooflines
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