The Tiny House Village concept is a gated community with between 3 to 50 tiny houses located on a common property. Residents live together with a set of mutually acceptable rules, look-out for each other and share common space while retaining individual living units. Houses range from very small (60 sq ft) to relatively small (600 sq ft). Some housing includes plumbing and electrical but many do not. Often a communal bathroom, laundry and kitchen facility is built on-site or residents have access to a church facility on property. Some tiny houses are built on trailers while others are on skids or even on a foundation. Ideally, all tiny house projects will be safe, comfortable, attractive and affordable.
The current need for housing is at a breaking point. While the number of people who live without permanent, sustainable housing is increasing, the ability to provide adequate housing options is falling far behind the demand. The average cost for one chronically homeless person for one year of services can range from $40,000 to $100,000 per person. Local and State governments bear the brunt of the burden for solving the housing crisis and homeless emergency but despite their best efforts have come up far short of a solution.
Long-term, permanent housing units are too expensive to build in order to meet the demand in California. Although the housing voucher programs offer excellent housing to those fortunate enough to be selected, the waiting lists are always full. In Sacramento there are thousands on the waiting list that will be bumped for homeless applicants. Each voucher costs $821/mo. For one-bedroom and homeless residents must be able to live on their own and be accepted by the housing provider. This plan neglects the very real problem that there is not community in addition to housing, the costs are large, housing is impacted and existing low-income people on the waiting list may become homeless while the homeless jump the line and take their places.
Tiny House Villages are by far the most affordable, immediate and sustainable model of housing for several reasons. The average tiny house cost is only $7500 to build and place while rent is a bargain at $200 per month. The low buy-in cost and individual nature of these units allows for church-village partnerships which essentially makes the cost for building and maintenance effectively zero.
The Village concept also allows for people who have been living a primarily outdoor lifestyle to remain connected with the outdoors. It requires a minimal amount of land and can easily be scaled to fit into a variety of spaces.
Most homeless people experience chronic, daily, problems of place, safety and community. Not having a place to belong means you cannot every relax and feel like you belong. Many homeless search for temporary spaces where they can gather and sleep but are constantly facing the nagging fear of being displaced as they are chased away from their spaces. Without a door to lock at night the homeless person also faces a crisis of safety. Living on the street exposes the homeless population to constant violence, theft and sexual abuse. Because of this, everything a homeless person owns must go with them everywhere they travel. Leaving it behind is a sure way to get it stolen. One of the greatest markers of a person who succumbs to homelessness is lack of family connection. Broken or absent family relationships means there is no final safety net between the homeless person and the streets. Without a community that listens, cares and encourages people tend to isolate which is terrible for human thriving.
The Tiny House Village Concept for homelessness creates a solution to each of the main three problems this population faces. It provides a sense of place, safety and community for it’s residents. When you receive a Tiny House it becomes your “place.” No longer do you need to wonder where you belong. Instead, you will be able to point to a place that is yours and declare, that is my house! This is my neighborhood! This is where I belong. It also means you will get keys to a dead-bolt and a door. Instead of needing to carry everything you own with you wherever you go, you will be able to leave your belongings knowing they will be safely locked away until you return. This allows you to travel about the City during the day freely and with peace of mind. Because each home comes with a Church community partnership each of our residents also gain a family. They not only live with others in a small community of neighbors who care for each other, they also have a high-functioning community of friends who visit regularly and provide outings and experiences that challenge and encourage them to become all that they can be.
Once the big three needs of place, safety and community are met, it now becomes possible for formerly homeless residents to begin working on less pressing issues like, work, substance abuse, mental illness treatment, hobbies and spirituality. By partnering with outside professionals, we believe that it is possible for service providers to come to the Village and provide mentoring, training, counseling, health care and guidance so that the brokenness of our residents is healed or managed in a way that allows for a much greater future. Some residents will choose to stay in their Tiny House for a long period of time. Others, who dream of getting their own place, will be able to use the Tiny House as a stepping stone to a new life.