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98 sq ft house, built by Occupy Madison
Occupy Madison volunteers have been working to combat homelessness in Madison, Wisconsin. This year they launched an ambitious project to start building small, portable homes for Madison's homeless. The first will be completed next week and the second is slated for completion next month. Both are approximately 98 square feet and have a bed, kitchen, bathroom and storage.

Project organizers are committed to more in 2014:

"There's no comparison between having a place to go at night, and close the door, and sleep comfortably, and not freeze to death or have your possessions stolen. There's no substitute for that” says Luca Clemente, one of the project organizers.

Occupy Madison hopes to complete 10 tiny homes by the end of 2014.

More from NBC15 in Madison:
The Wisconsin State Journal reports the first tenants are moving in Tuesday. The first two houses were built this summer thanks to more than 50 volunteers.

City ordinance allows the houses to be parked on the street as long as they're moved every 48 hours.

Bruce Wallbaum, project organizer for Occupy Madison, and other organizers are working with area churches to allow the houses to park up to three in each lot.

Eventually the organization hopes to buy land and create a village of up to 30 of the houses.

You can see video of the new houses and the soon-to-be residents here.

Originally posted to Scout Finch on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:12 AM PST.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive, Democracy Addicts, Kossacks for the Homeless Person, Occupy Wall Street, Madison Kossacks, and Daily Kos.

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  •  Tip Jar (274+ / 0-)
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    •  It would be even cooler if it were legally (7+ / 0-)

      habitable space, which per building codes I'm familiar with, it couldn't be.

      •  shall I post this all up and down the thread (66+ / 0-)

        following each of your comments saying the same thing?

        The Madison Common Council voted to amend the city's zoning code to allow tiny houses, like the single 96-square-foot trailer-mounted cottage Occupy Madison has constructed so far, to be set up on the property of churches and other non-profit organizations.
        •  building codes and zoning codes are different (0+ / 0-)
        •  I'm not the buzzkill. The building code is the (11+ / 0-)


          It's great that Madison, WI has allowed an exception to the zoning code, but for the most part, zoning codes and building codes both apply to property development.

          One of the reasons the "tiny house" movement has a big problem taking off is that there are tons (I'm talking tons of building code requirements that make houses that small impossible to design to code (for example, a toilet centerline has to be in a 30" space with 15" to each side wall, minimum; it has to be vented or there must be a window. There must be a 24" clearance from the front of the toilet to the wall, etc, etc, etc. Each habitable bedroom must contain a closet. I'm not saying that it wouldn't be a good idea for there to be an exception to the IRC to allow tinier spaces. But it's very complex, and the building codes, while irritating in many ways, are a good thing. It's good to require hard-wired smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; it's good to make doorways large enough for wheelchairs.

          I've designed a lot of affordable housing and homeless shelters. There has been many a time I've wanted to be able to make spaces smaller so that more could be done for less, but the building code is the place to start for that kind of advocacy, not the zoning code.

          I would be surprised if Madison WI has suspended the IRC.

          •  San Francisco also... (14+ / 0-)

            Is now renting apartments at 290-square feet. Bigger than these, but not by much.

            The city put in special exceptions to make them legal. Out here, they are not for homeless - but got for $1700/month or so. Half the rent of a studio built to normal code, but still amazingly pricey for most of the nation.

            OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

            by Jyotai on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 10:04:10 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  What? - That should be outlawed - Fuck those (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              peptabysmal, QuelleC

              prices and the people who get the income from them.

              •  Gee what a well thought out reply! (0+ / 0-)

                Shall they fuck off all the way to the bank? Shall they offer only apartments twice the size and three times the rent?

                Here's a newsflash mimi: The developers that built those 290 sqft apartments had to buy the underlying land, which is astronomically expensive. Then they had to comply with the truly Byzantine San Francisco Bldg. Dept. If you've never done that, you have NO IDEA how bad it is.

                The end product costs what it costs, because that's the market we live in. If you think the alternative is better, ie ever falling rents, and ever rising vacancy, you need to spend some time in Detroit.

                Until then, keep your uninformed expletives where they belong: in your undersized brain.

                Yours Truly: SF Developer

                Left Coast Libertarian

                by pacspeed on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 07:32:59 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  See my undersized brain is at least cheaper (0+ / 0-)

                  than those undersized apartments, you have to admit that.

                  Sorry for being upset and my bad language. My brain grew a little larger lately, so it shouldn't happen again.

                  Then explain to me why falling rents would lead to rising vacancies, if you have so many people who want to rent but can't because of the high prices?

                  Are there no vacancies in SF? That would be fantastic. I don't know SF.

                  The city I know a little bit is DC. I think there are lots of vacancies here. So, the market is different in SF considering land prices and construction codes and costs?

                  I think I was just upset, because the diary was about small housing for the homeless. If they are that expensive to build and still that high in rental prices, I think they don't serve the purpose of helping the homeless finding affordable housing.

                  •  the basic premise is fixed supply, too much demand (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Everyone wants to live in SF...but theres nowhere to go but up. Take a look at google earth, the entire city and county is, for all intents and purposes, 100% built out. SO: high demand and fixed supply equals ever rising rents.

                    I must apologise for reacting so vociferously to your comment, its a subject very very close to my heart, my pocketbook, and my family's well being.

                    From a developer's perspective, the solution is easy: go up. Build 100 story apartment and condo developments. BUUUTTTT: If someone actually proposes such a building ,the cacophony of protest from every corner of the political spectrum grows so loud that most projects go unbuilt. Taken individually, each of those protests seems legitimate: parking, viewscapes, traffic, historic preservation, infrastructure capacity, energy use, but put them all together, and 10 different groups, complaining about 10 different things, can slow or stop your project outright.

                     At the very least, you will be saddled with years of very expensive legal fees, engineers, botanists, architectural and land use consultants, all the while paying high interest rates on the land you purchased (gotta buy before you can start the process, and you wont be getting a fannie mae loan for it! Run the math of 12-15% private hard money for your multi-million dollar piece of dirt and you can see why spending a year in court isn't feasible)

                    So, once it's all said and done, IF you were able to navigate the stormy seas of politics and the permit process, your individual units have picked up somewhere in the neighborhood of $200k apiece in extra costs, on top of the $300/sqft in hard construction costs, the $100k in amortized dirt, the 1.1% property tax, and the 12-15% interest on the whole shebang. Run that back to the 6-7% cap rate needed to interest any commercial development company, and a 1000 sqft apartment all of a sudden needs to generate about $4,000 a month to even be worth building.

                    You will of course refinance the building to about 6% once it's done, so you could conceivably lower the break even point to about $3500/month, but that leaves no profit, just the deed to the building, which by the way consumes an enormous amount of maintenance costs utilities, insurance, etc.

                    The main driver of this cost is of course the $300/sqft hard construction cost, this is a result of decades of meddling with building codes for one political purpose or another. It's gotten so bad that California has it's whole own building code (CBC), while the rest of the country and Canada and parts of Europe use only two (UBC and IRC). Mandated energy efficiency measures. Mandated earthquake resistance. Mandated green building, mandated fire and life safety measures. Again: all well intentioned, but in the aggregate extremely expensive and time consuming.

                    So, here we are: a beautiful state, with a very high standard of construction, with limited space to put everything in, and opportunities to expand jealously guarded by everyone with a sliver of interest in your project. Result: Extremely high cost of housing.

                    Left Coast Libertarian

                    by pacspeed on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 07:38:43 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I understand what you describe (0+ / 0-)

                      it just doesn't solve the problem of finding inexpensive emergency housing for the homeless of San Francisco, right?

                      To find a realistic solution was the intention and the discussion of this diary, right?

                      All I am saying is, that no matter for what very true reasons it is not possible for a developer to build inexpensive housing units in San Francisco, one has to find a solution for the homeless. And I doubt that developers can do that in the traditional way of developing housing units. So, I am trying to think out of the box and pushing for laws that would allow different building codes and zoning requirements for emergeny housing units for the homeless.

            •  that's a good price for San Francisco (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              high uintas

              Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
              Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

              by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 02:32:50 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  My apartment in Seattle (15+ / 0-)

              is 150 square feet. Developers have been taking advantage of a 'loophole' in the zoning code that allows a single dwelling unit to house up to 8 unrelated occupants with a shared entrance and kitchen. Technically, I live in an 8-person townhouse, but in reality I have my own private tiny studio with a bathroom and kitchenette.

              Mine's 760/month. They go for as low as $580 (not sure what the difference is, really, since mine is the smallest there is - I might be paying extra for top floor + roof deck access) and as high as about $1000 (250-sft loft spaces).

              Not bad for a great location in the city, really. I've seen worse in NYC. There's a video of one guy who has an 'apartment' that really amounts to a wide hallway.

              I wouldn't want to live in 98 sft, but I'd take it over being homeless any day.

              "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

              by kyril on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 02:46:29 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  I hear what you're saying but (16+ / 0-)

            IIRC we're the only state that doesn't use the same uniform building code as the rest of the country. I don't know if that's because of Frank Lloyd Wright or what--Wisconsin has its own statewide building codes.

            I'm not a professional but someone seems to think these shelters are safe enough. I once read an article in Fine Homebuilding about a guy who built a treehouse that passed the local building inspector's test.

            My own house is a series of epic fails. Ex.--it's built on a floating slab foundation, like a garage. For the non-mechanical out there, that's not cool. Also, my wiring is so outdated the pre-purchase inspector peppered her report with multiple exclamation points. The fact the place doesn't have a door wider than 32 inches pales in comparison. Yet here I live.

            Why not let these people be?

            Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.--Sam Rayburn

            by Ice Blue on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 12:14:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The house I lived in (5+ / 0-)

              before this had no foundation, you would go down in the basement to just dirt. It was two houses, the first was a three room built around 1900 with a barrack from the Army Depot attached after WWI.

              My mom was raised in it, as was I and my daughter. It doesn't still stand, the city took it over to expand the cemetery but I miss it damn near every day. I had two Heatrola gas space heaters and a 1939 Magic Chef stove that was as big as a boat.

              I kept one of the space heaters.

              And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County Down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away. John Prine

              by high uintas on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 04:01:31 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  My old house was like yours. I lived in it for 29 (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Arkenstark, CA wildwoman

              years, and was always sick, had sinus infections and such.  When we moved into a mobile home 8 years ago, all that cleared up.  Because the house had no vapor barrier it was filled with black mold.  It was a toxic house and no way it can ever be fixed. It sets on damp land that is landfill where a lake used to be.  I am much better off up off the ground in my mobile home.  

              •  We have had concrete block & old mobile homes (0+ / 0-)

                with mold problems - lots of respiratory illness for years.

                We were still better off than the farm worker families living in tiny travel trailers in rural ag 'trailer courts' all around us in N. Cal.

                Then we were fortunate to buy a cheap old house closer to a town that had a gas floor heater & a real roof - all the outside trim was done with 'I need a piece of wood about this long' lumber. It was spectacularly better than where we had been.

                From there, with family help, got a new modular that is a palace & still very comfortable. It was nice to be able to 'grow up' away from roughing it for a living space.

                Something that doesn't make good sense, makes bad sense. That means someone is being deliberately hurtful & selfish. Look for motives behind actions & words.

                by CA wildwoman on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 07:20:27 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Thank you. Your example shows why codes don't ... (29+ / 0-)

            apply here. The building code requirements that you cite do not make sense here. They exist to assure home buyers that when they pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a (relatively) cheap house, they can still assume that certain things will be there. In the example that you cite of certain bathroom dimension requirements, the goal is to allow a certain degree of convenience when using a toilet.

            That is not what is needed here. The goal here is to create a "home" which, among other things, provides ready access to some toilet. The same considerations apply to the apparent lack of permanent water, sewer, and electrical connections. The primary point of reference is a tent, not an FmHA-approved house.

            In an earlier life (the first 20 years of my working life), I was a carpenter, doing primarily residential work. It did not take me long to recognize that there were three kinds of requirements in Maine's building, plumbing, and electrical codes: safety issues, minimum expectations about what a buyer should be able to assume in a house, and make-work requirements for trades people. (The last has, fortunately, become much more rare since I started in the trades.)

            I agree that there is great value in building codes. I have seen the results of people trying to "finesse" them -- one totally unnecessary fire comes to mind. However here there is a clear need for a structure that cannot meet its design requirements within the limits of the existing building code. The question becomes "How do you get from where we are to a well-developed code for this type of dwelling?"

            The city and Occupy Madison are doing several things to address that gap:
            1) Making certain relaxations of zoning,  
            2) Making sure that they are clearly not ordinary houses, and
            3) Involving the residents in building them. This last means that they will be intimately familiar with the compromises being made.

            You cannot write a good building code for a new kind of structure until you have some experience actually building a few. This happened in the late 70's and early 80's with "passive solar" houses. Making legal exceptions and carefully monitoring the results fills the gap.

          •  That's a great point, and something that (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            claude, Larsstephens

            sorely (esp. in this thread) needs to be addressed.

            I can understand why a county or parish would not want people parking mobile homes anywhere they can buy a random plot of land, but there has to be some some compromise between the need for the status quo to want every home to have a 2 acre lawn with a picket fence, and the necessity to satisfy basic human needs.

            Basic housing needs are a 1) place to sleep, 2) a place to prepare and eat food, 3) a place to make toilet, and 4) a place to secure personal (modest) possessions.

            It doesn't need to be 10,000 sq.ft. and it doesn't need marble counter-tops and gold fixtures. It just needs to satisfy the four basic housing needs.

            I suspect anyone with a construction tool user name must have some vested interest in status quo construction.

            But thanks for explaining the difference between zoning and building codes. I think most here get that zoning is for the zone (area and its environs) around a property, and the neighborhood it is in situ, and building codes are for the building itself (construction, inspection materials, permits and technologies).

            I eagerly await your next diary on the history and necessity of building firewall codes and their variations by locality and building methodology, and the differences in lifetime costs of different roofing material/construction methods. I really need to know this before I can buy my next home as an informed buyer.

          •  part of the problem is cultural. (5+ / 0-)

            The insistence on separate space with redundant utility (10 separate kitchens, bathing and laundry facilities, etc.)  features that, if shared communally and built with that in mind,  could be of far greater quality and utility to the users.

            But Americans don't live that way, except at summer camp.

            It's silly to quibble over whether these are "houses", meeting applicable codes to be so designated.  They are shelters designed to relieve the inhabitants of the indignity of seeing themselves living in a tent.

            Given that as a goal,  why not figure out how to facilitate clusters of such shelters that center on a core utility  unit that provides the essentials that require mechanical systems to provide,  but at a more efficient scale than a bunch of tiny separate units?  

            Notice nobody is talking about where all the drain and waste goes from all these pretty little "houses"?

            There is the germ of some very good ideas in this little house concept, if they are allowed to grow outside the conventional paradigm.

            I am a retired residential builder myself, with 40+ years of learning and knowing about the issues you raise,  so I get were you are coming from.

            Addressing the immediate shelter needs of the homeless is commendable compassionate band-aid application.  It does nothing to address the underlying causes or solutions to homelessness,  which is in itself simply a symptom of underlying disease in our society.

            don't always believe what you think

            by claude on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 08:43:54 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Now see? That's my problem/question. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            claude, Heavy Mettle

            These tiny houses include a bathroom and a kitchen.  How, without access to a sewer system and water hookup?  Is the bathroom just a glorified bucket?  And a kitchen without running water couldn't accurately be described as a kitchen.  If these things were put on permanent foundations in an area like a mobile home park with access to sewer and water, now that would be a real community for the homeless.  But riding around on trailers from one church parking lot to another?  I don't see it, but I hope for the sake of the homeless it works out...some way or other.

            "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

            by SueDe on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 09:02:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  more at the same link (27+ / 0-)
        There was some concern among city council members over whether the tiny houses could meet city building and safety codes, the Daily Cardinal reported.

        “It sounds like they were sized to circumvent it,” said west-side Ald. Paul Skidmore.

        A suggestion to delay action to allow closer review of the logistics around plans for the houses was diverted by concern over the impending need for shelter.

        “I would remind everybody that it’s already very cold tonight,” said southwest-side Ald. Lisa Subeck,

      •  Would require friendly laws (33+ / 0-)

        and a new way of looking at things, a more liberal standard for tiny houses and such innovations.

        OTOH, one might ask if we want to become a country where the poor have to move every two days. Or where they are consigned to an encampment, out of desperation.

        There's no lack of housing in the U.S. that I can see. What is lacking is the will, especially among the powerful, to take care of those among us who have met with misfortune.

      •  It was possible in Olympia, WA (19+ / 0-)

        For several years, a homeless group had been occupying tents on church parking lots near downtown Olympia, with permission from the congregations.  The City recently completed constructed 30 little 150 sq ft. homes for them in an industrial area.  Named Quixote Village, it offers permanent housing. Each cottage measures 150 square feet and includes a front porch with garden space. Inside, residents have heat, plumbing and electricity — along with a bed, desk, half-bathroom and closet.  Two of the units accommodate the disabled.  There is a community bldg with laundry, showers, kitchen, and lounge.

        Read more here:

        •  The cost of that project baffles me (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kurt, Friend of the court

          It's a good idea, but it shouldn't have cost anywhere near that much. The materials cost for low-frills tiny houses is in the $10k range, and there's no way the land (near an industrial area, and not a whole lot of space between houses) and labor should have cost $2M.

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 02:53:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't understand it at all. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kyril, kurt, Cassandra Waites, greenearth

            3.1 million for 30 tiny houses would be around $100,000.00 a house and the land is not owned by the house inhabitants. Where does that make sense? Who owns the land? Who pays the lease and how much? If the inhabitants pay 1/3 of their income in rent, how much is the total rent?

            •  OM Build's first tiny house cost $4500, but (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Smoh, Cassandra Waites, MRA NY

              they expect the price to come down with more practice.

              I believe a lot of the extra cost in the Olympia tiny house village went into the "extras" in each house and the "club house":

              " Each cottage measures 150 square feet and includes a front porch with garden space. Inside, residents have heat, plumbing and electricity along with a bed, desk, half-bathroom and closet. Everybody gets new sheets and towels. Two of the units accommodate the disabled.

              The property’s main clubhouse has a stocked kitchen, laundry facilities, showers, mailboxes and a common seating area with a television and fireplace. Bus service is available nearby. Intercity Transit also donated an eight-passenger van for the village."

              "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

              by Sand Hill Crane on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 05:33:21 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  And here's a question: (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              While this solves an immediate need problem for homeless people, the idea of microunits being the answer to our housing needs bothers me a bit.  I believe in sustainable building and realize that smaller is betters, but the homes of the rich aren't shrinking.  Will only the rich have elbow room and space to create -- while the rest of us end up crammed together like cattle in a pen?

              "Since when did obeying corporate power become patriotic." Going the Distance

              by Going the Distance on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 10:58:40 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Veal Crates nt (0+ / 0-)

                Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

                by bernardpliers on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 12:36:07 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Those are separate questions (0+ / 0-)

                1) Whether the rich drive us to have smaller homes
                2) Whether there is provision for the homeless

                You sound a bit like you're thinking along Republican lines: the poor mustn't have anything or we'll lose the little we have. As the story goes...

                The poor man and I took one hundred apples to the fat rich man. He took them, gave me five good apples and the poor man a mouldy one. The poor man left, despondent, grumbling. The rich man turned to me and said "Watch him: he wants one of your apples"

                •  Thinking along Republican lines? Please! (0+ / 0-)

                  Quite the opposite-- I am concerned that these "small" housing solutions are made to give the poor the minimum while the rich continue to expand their holdings, expanding the class the divide even further into the physical realm.  

                  "Since when did obeying corporate power become patriotic." Going the Distance

                  by Going the Distance on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 10:05:52 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Design Student Vanity Projects (0+ / 0-)

              Creating the galley kitchens that cost over $500 a square foot using toy appliances.  That's how you get a $1000 dishwasher that only holds one place setting but manages to take up enough up space that there's no real sink.

              Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

              by bernardpliers on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 12:39:56 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Building codes are something that ... (0+ / 0-)

        ... the tiny house movement has to deal with regularly, since, as in Madison, codes are often written to regulate what is traditionally done, and do not account for new solutions. Which makes the facts of the matter: [quote]However, as Konkel countered, the tiny house project is so new that [b]there is just no code that covers them.[/b]

        “We can’t build them to a code, but we are building them to meet safety standards,” Konkel said. [/quote]

        ... far from surprising. It would be absurd to suggest that there is some uniform nationwide rule that spaces of 96 sq. ft. are not legally habitable, since many legally inhabited mobile homes are 96 sq. ft. or less.

        But the devil is in the details. There is a market niche for tiny house plans of about 200sq ft., because in some places "auxilliary buildings" of 200sq ft. or less are subject to substantially fewer rules ... and of course many tiny houses are placed on trailers, because the rules for mobile homes are different from the rules for fixed dwellings.

        Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

        by BruceMcF on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 05:04:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  That was the very thing I wished for . (11+ / 0-)

    "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

    by indycam on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:44:28 AM PST

  •  I had the idea years ago (21+ / 0-)

    after a homeless man moved into my green house for the winter until 'Rita' smashed it to pieces, never had the funds to built a tiny house for him.
    How do they move these houses, are they built on trailers?
    I've seen one being pulled behind a bicycle.

    El pueblo unido jamás será vencido. The people united will never be defeated

    by mint julep on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:48:20 AM PST

  •  Will churches step up? bet not many. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    high uintas

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:49:25 AM PST

  •  Problem with the video link provided. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Burned, kyril

    It doesn't have anything about the houses.

    You can lead a Republican to knowledge but no matter how hard you try, you just can't make them think.

    by FisherOfRolando on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:51:22 AM PST

  •  This is what cities should be doing instead (31+ / 0-)

    of trying to crowd people into shelters and warming centers. I would've been thrilled with this and the overall coast is cheaper than a year's worth subsidized rent.

    "Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." - Woody Allen

    by blueoregon on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:57:06 AM PST

    •  They can't do it, because it's not to code. Also, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cordgrass, Ice Blue, QuelleC

      building a huge number of (even illegal 98 sf units) instead of one shelter with significantly less square footage per person is hugely inefficient (walls, foundation, roof, plumbing fixtures per person rather than shared). It's just one of those crazy things. When people don't do something that may seem obvious, it's frequently for a lot of good reasons.

      •  What a positive little cold shower you are (21+ / 0-)

        Something small may inspire us all to do something big. Codes are made by men and they can be changed by men. Thank you non-code bound volunteers. Keep up the good work  

        •  What a little cold shower who has designed (7+ / 0-)

          affordable housing, homeless shelters, mixed used housing, who has personally volunteered with Habitat for Humanity (which does build to code) etc. etc.

          A lot of people are living in buildings I've helped design and have helped put in place. They're safe.

          It would be great if you went out and changed some codes and made them better. I will happily design the nicest building I can with the largest budget I can extract to that code.

          •  You are wrong unless RV's now have to adhere (7+ / 0-)

            to any specific communities building codes...the codes do not apply to RV units and as these are mobile on wheels, they're by definition an RV not a site built house which would have to adhere to building and zoning codes.

            This is no different than a mini bumper pull trailer or a popup....

            Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
            I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
            Emiliano Zapata

            by buddabelly on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 10:43:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  If this diary were entitled "Homeless allowed to (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              temporarily live in camps in campgrounds" I would not have made any comments.

              Typically when people say "Home of their own" they have a certain image which does not entail a license plate, moving once per every 48 hours, undependable fresh water, sewer, and electrical hookups, and constant fears of the habitation being declared illegal by building officials.

            •  exactly, my man. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              buddabelly, plumbobb

              A travel trailer can can quite a comfy little home and as luxurious as one cares to pay for.  

              Assemblages of travel trailers are called "trailer parks'  and can actually be quite congenial communities. Safety and health codes for such assemblages are already established.

              I don't quite get why folks want to built these pretty  little houses that don't have wheels if they have to move them every two days.  Seems silly,  just to spare the inhabitant the indignity of being in a trailer?

              don't always believe what you think

              by claude on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:26:33 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  yup I have an old 24' Airstream Argosy with (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                plumbobb, grollen, claude

                all the bells and whistles, sleeps 5 if y'alls close and has tanks for drycamping...cost me 700 bucks....

                And it's their version of a ultra light, under 3200 dry weight and 500lb tongue with Sway a Way will tow behind a crown vic or a mini truck...any half ton will handle it easily.

                There are hundreds of thousands of similar units out there for sale cheap right now....might be a good choice, a small trailer and lot rent for a few months to get someone on their could be done under 2 grand a couple...another advantage most shelters don't have, the ability for families to stay together......

                Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
                I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
                Emiliano Zapata

                by buddabelly on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 11:40:26 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  plumbobb is correct. It would be better to (9+ / 0-)

          construct micro-apartments. Sewer and water would be problematic with the micro-houses as well as inefficient land use.

          Here's what is being done in Vancouver, Canada where codes have been changed to accommodate this construction. The rent is high due to prime location.

          You may also be interested to know that Vancouver has banned door knobs and knobbed faucets in all new construction. They now must have lever handles so as to be elder friendly. See what universal healthcare in Canada leads to? It's pure tyranny and abuse of civil rights. The next thing will be that food and lodging become human rights in Canada. Oh... the horror of it all.

          •  Which homeless can pay those rents ? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sand Hill Crane, peptabysmal

            I don't see how this helps. Who builds those apartments and who profits of them?

            •  What homeless person can afford a $4000 private (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mimi, Larsstephens, claude

              dwelling that has to be moved every 48 hours? These units are nothing more than picturesque travel trailers. The only place that can accommodate them would be open areas outside the city centers, well away from services. Trailer parks could be built to accommodate them.

              I just don't see them as a viable solution to homelessness - just as 3000 square foot houses in the suburbs are no longer a viable solution for housing the world's people.

              The nation has to deal with the root causes of poverty which has created the homeless situation in the first place.

              Who builds those apartments and who profits of them?
              The same people who currently construct living accommodation within cities. It's not only new apartments but also the modification of older 1 and 2 bedroom apartments as well as garages and old commercial buildings/warehouses.

              The average rent within 10 miles of Vancouver, BC is $1573. The prime downtown area can be double and triple that.

              With the change in minimum apartment size, the price can be decreased at the same time as the number of units is increased.

              Mini-apartments give B.C. renters a new option

              Like in that complex, Mr. Lang plans to build units that have windows the width of the entire lot and daylight on both sides of each unit by using an interior courtyard - a configuration that makes it easier to build in a lock-off rental suite as well. The design aims to accomplish the goals of a recent city housing initiative: to create more types of affordable housing in this ultra-expensive city and giving buyers more flexibility with their space.

              "There are lots of apartments in this area, but they're all one-bedroom," said Mr. Lang. "The moment people have children, they have to move." The units he's planning will allow owners to rent out the locked-off suite until they need the extra bedroom, at which point they can convert it back to being part of the apartment, just like people in single-family houses can do with basement suites.
              Ms. Reimer said the city bylaw doesn't actually create any more living space in the city, unlike another recently passed housing initiative that will allow people to build or convert garages into small laneway houses.

              But it does two other things that help with affordable housing. It gives the buyers proof of a legal stream of income that can help them get a mortgage, which is especially important for young buyers. And it gives both owners and tenants the protection of the Residential Tenancy Act, which does not cover people who rent rooms in a shared house.

              The city specified that the suites had to be a minimum size of 280 square feet, with the possibility of going down to 205 square feet under special conditions, including access to a garden space.
              While Mr. Lang's project is the first to go up for sale, Vancouver could see a proliferation of lock-off suites in coming years. They will be permitted in the areas to be developed around the Olympic village, which has room for a couple of thousand units. And they have already been included in the zoning for a new development on the Fraser River, East Fraserlands, which has been going through city planning processes for several years.

              •  I didn't mean to support those specific (4+ / 0-)

                mini houses. Nor do I understand why they have to be moved every 48 hours. But I do think that pre-fab housing kits that are adhering to most building safety codes and can be erected by the owners themselves, would be a good solution. The initial price can be subsidized and I can imagine, if you can get a student loan for your education, even a homeless person could get a specific long-term loan that is not given out by private banks but by the Federal Government as a method to afford the one time expense.

                I get the feeling that all laws surrounding the availability of space within cities or at their outskirts are the problem and not the fact that these are single units.

                And there is no reason to not support both ways of subsidizing housing for the poor, or not?

                •  They would only be viable if they were on free (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kyril, plumbobb, claude, grollen

                  land. Land within city centers is extremely costly. Land in the suburbs would also be too costly and would require transportation. Also, taxes need to be levied to pay for the infrastructure - roads, schools, sewer, water, policing, etc.

                  These mini-houses are just a reflection of the American value system. In the American Dream, everyone has their own private land, house and vehicle. America was built on free or very cheap land (mostly stolen from the previous inhabitants). If you were to extrapolate this lifestyle and value system onto the world at large, the earth could not support it.

                  •  So, the government does not own land, which it (0+ / 0-)

                    could offer for the homeless to live on with a permanent structure for very low cost?  The homeless could own the building structure, but not the land. They couldn't be given  the right to live on the land against low lease for life prices ?.

                    And much land, for example in the African village, my ex-husband grew up in. had no titles, meaning the land had no monetary value. People lived on the land several tribes side by side  and they lived off the land they occupied but didn't own the land.  Matter of fact, those "homeless" Africans were not homeless, they could build their structures, where the needed them.

                    They decided among the tribal families which plot of land could be used by whom and basically everybody had some land to grow something on there to not starve. This was bare subsistence, but I doubt that anyone would have been prevented to grow food, hunt, build a structure and use water. They couldn't expect to have electricity and sewage systems, but everything else they had. And those infrastructures were slowly been built.

                    I admit that to survive under those condition the family structures and "labor laws" were not what we would consider "just", but their "laws" reflected the most reasonable practices for the community to survive.

                    •  The homes we are talking about in this diary (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      are not suitable for third world countries. There would be no point in having the steel undercarriage, wheels and tow bar.

                      Homes in third world countries can be more economically produced from local materials.

                      Land is becoming a severe problem in the African countries just as it was in the Americas when the Europeans invaded and stole their land at the point of a gun. Even today there are indigenous people in South America that have been on the land for thousands of years but because they have no "paper" they have been pushed onto 'reservations'.

                      Land Grabs in Africa Neo-colonialism

                      Awake up Africans, learn from the last time we were occupationally colonized. Here it comes again, If we are not careful, we will end up like the naive American populations.

                      •  I am aware of that, thanks, it wasn't like that 30 (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Claudius Bombarnac

                        to 40 years ago.  But that's another issue. I was just describing an environment where land was not owned yet by the population per title. There is as much advantage as there is disadvantages to that.

                        Through the corporate land grab of multinational corporations and their local representatives and handlers EVERYTHING has changed.

                        The land grab is a political issue in itself. It was not my intention to overlook that issue or to discuss it. More to show that zoning codes for access to land is an issue for the development of homeless housing, as we don't live in the ideal world where nobody would own land, but everybody would have access to use it.

                        I don't know if I am making sense.

        •  Except plumbobb's right. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, claude

          As any property developer. He'll say the easiest way to build new buildings is to buy up someone's unspoiled land. The hardest way to do it is through urban renewal. You've gotta jump through so many hoops to tear down empty blighted buildings most guys have learned better than to try, even if their hearts are in the right place.

          Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.--Sam Rayburn

          by Ice Blue on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 12:30:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Dirt, disease, bugs, bad behavior (39+ / 0-)

        Many of the homeless don't want to stay in the shelters because of the above reasons. They are scared to be sleeping near someone who spends the night coughing up a lung. They don't want to pick up lice or bed bugs. They have been intimidated and scared by the actions of others in the shelters and they won't to go back. Shelters also have limited space to accommodate their belongings and people want to stay near their belongings. Shelters also have set schedules that everyone has to follow. Need to sleep during the day because you managed to get a night watchman's job? You can't sleep in the shelter during the day because they turn everyone out at 8am.

        Living in a Tiny House, allows people to have their own schedule, keep their belongings and try to build their own life. Someone living in a Tiny House could actually get a job and keep it because they have a place to keep their printed resumes flat, have clean, dry clothes to wear, could sleep all night or all day as needed and would be less likely to get sick because they aren't surrounded by sick people every night.

        Many of our current codes are stupid. They were created by people who worry about their property values and promote bigger, fancier houses than people actually need. It is possible to have a safe, hygienic house without it being 800 sq. feet.  

        "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

        by Sand Hill Crane on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:15:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Privacy (30+ / 0-)

          Privacy, that is non-existent in shelters is priceless. Not having privacy increases the feeling of worthlessness....not having privacy just makes one feel like a number, not a person.

          This whole world's wild at heart and weird on top....Lula

          by anninla on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:30:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  All that granted (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          people can have the same degree of privacy and self-determination in microapartments, which can be built to code and are much more efficient in their use of land, energy, and resources.

          I obviously prefer that people live in tiny houses rather than staying in shelters or sleeping on the street. They're clearly a big improvement. I'm just not entirely sure why anyone would choose to go with tiny mobile houses when the same per-person budget could buy a much warmer, nicer microapartment building with proper heat and running water and electricity and no legal concerns.

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 03:08:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Housing for Homeless blocked by NIMBYs (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kyril, Cassandra Waites, claude, grollen

            Occupy Madison had first planned to buy and renovate a building to be a SRO or have micro-apartments, but the residents of the area heard about the potential building sale of the building and went NIMBY. No one wants a building full of the homeless sited nearby. Even the other service organizations in the area, like the Domestic Abuse Intervention Services didn't want housing for homeless individuals on "their" street.

            Mike Kenitz, executive director of Center for Families said "his organization is not against services to homeless individuals, who are also served by his agency. But, he added, 'We serve hundreds of vulnerable small children and many parents and need to know more about what is being proposed to move next to us.' "

            The executive director of Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, which was converting the old Sears warehouse at 2102 Fordem Ave. into a new shelter for abused women and their children, said: " I am really surprised and disheartened that no effort was made to engage and dialogue with the neighborhood - especially two other nonprofits who serve vulnerable populations."

            Occupy Madison about to buy Fordem Avenue building to house homeless

            Building and siting Tiny Houses is easier because neighborhoods are less likely to be afraid of 1 homeless person living nearby.

            "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

            by Sand Hill Crane on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 04:56:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Very true. My son has been homeless, due to drug (0+ / 0-)

          addiction.  He is clean now, and has been for 4 years.  He lived in alot of shelters.  Some were very good, especially the one in Erie, PA where he finally got the help he needed with getting off drugs and alchole.  He has told me alot about the shelters he has been at.  He couldn't keep possesions from being stolen, if he had a job, which he often did, he had to conform to shelter hours or lose a bed.  In Erie, things were better, different.  They were very strict at first, when he was getting off drugs, but he earned more privilages as time went on.  He really got good counseling and help there.  They even paid for him to take a trip home over christmas a few years ago so he could see his daughter.  During his time here he had to attend AA meetings and document that he did.  When he went back, they were surprised he actually did it, most don't.  He has volenteered there since he got out on his own, but is coming back home to stay, for at least a while next week.  He lost his job there because of job cuts, can't find another.  The job market is terrible there now, so he is coming here in hopes of better luck.  I already found a few leads for him, so I am hopeful.  Also good for his daughter, who lives with me and needs a relationship with her dad.  She is 14, a smart girl who still could benefit from a relationship with him.   There is one thing I know from my experience with him and other homeless, the system we have now isn't working well and needs changes.  This seems like a good first step.  It is better then a tent or cold sidewalk.  It is better than some shelters too.

      •  Giving people a little bit of privacy (27+ / 0-)

        And security when they sleep knowing that someone isn't going to accost them is priceless.

        What part of that don't you get? Shelters are notorious for having predators that attack others, along with no privacy and being subjected to religious proselytizing.

        Women create the entire labor force.
        Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

        by splashy on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:27:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Cardboard boxes don't have building codes... (19+ / 0-)

        ...nor do cars, or vacant condemned buildings, etc--yet, sadly, far too many people have been forced to use these and many other "inefficient" dwellings in order to find shelter from the elements.

        The tiny house movement may not be the perfect answer to an extremely urgent situation, but while the code enforcers, the financiers, the politicians, the perfectionists, and all the powers that be, argue the negatives and continually put up roadblocks to finding workable permanent solutions to the plight of the homeless, the tiny homes can provide what just may be a lifesaving solution in the meantime, a time when temps are hitting record lows, and storms are hitting early this winter.

      •  Maybe you should learn about the multiple (5+ / 0-)

        projects just like this around the country. I don't understand why you are so adamant to spread incorrect information after you have been proven wrong.

      •  Efficiency depends upon (8+ / 0-)

        what you are measuring, and what you choose not to measure.  For example shelters are clearly more efficient uses of money and effort, if you don't count privacy and security.

        Efficiency also depends upon scale.   For the price of one of these things, you can probably provide several beds in the shelter.  But if you build a sufficient number of these the marginal price of the shelter unit itself drops until the cost per bed-night isn't so prohibitive. ON THE OTHER HAND: as you deploy more of these, it becomes harder to find places to put them.  A major city can easily absorb a dozen or two dozen of these things with very little impact.  But two or three thousand of them and they'd start to become a major nuisance.

        Clearly the best choice would be to find permament, regular housing for people who are on the streets; create programs to convert "homeless people" in to just plain "people". That's a scalable, sustainable solution than some kind of makeshift shelter.

        But that doesn't mean that there isn't a place of makeshift shelters even in a well and humanely run city. Back in the 80s Bill Moss, the tent designer, devised a collapsible cardboard cold weather shelter that popped up in seconds and provided enough protection to enable someone living on the streets to survive. The idea was that on a cold night you'd put a couple hundred of these in the back of a pickup truck and distribute them to people sleeping on the streets.

        The tiny houses in this article clearly aren't a satisfactory solution to ll the problems of homelessness, nor need they be to be useful.  They may have value as a stopgap measure or as part of a more comprehensive approach to the problem. They certainly have value as a consciouness-raising exercise.  

        The problem with our thinking about problems is it tends to get stuck in uncreative ruts. These little houses remind us we don't have to think about solutions to this problem exclusively in terms of shelter beds. Shelter beds will always be needed, but they shouldn't be the only response we have. They should be an entry point into the whole solution.

        I've lost my faith in nihilism

        by grumpynerd on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 10:13:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Tiny House use recycled materials (5+ / 0-)

          Many materials used in OM Build Tiny Houses were recycled. The wood siding and floors are made from recycled oak pallets. Other items come from Habitat for Humanity's Restores or were donated. The biggest cost item is the time to build the Tiny Houses, but  all of the labor is donated.

          "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

          by Sand Hill Crane on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 10:41:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sure, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            but even donated labor isn't free; there's opportunity costs. For example that same labor in some places could be used to renovate abandoned or properties.

            I'm not being hypercritical though.  I think these things are a neat idea. I don't happen to think they're a viable solution to the problems of homelessness as a whole, but they don't have to be.

            I've lost my faith in nihilism

            by grumpynerd on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 11:30:32 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Renovating buildings has been blocked (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              If you read the post I made above, you will see Occupy Madison wanted to renovate a building to create a SRO, but the neighbors don't want a building full of "homeless" in their neighborhood.

              "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

              by Sand Hill Crane on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 04:59:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Comparable to ShelterBoxes (5+ / 0-)

          that have been highlighted for the Philippines. They're not a permanent solution, but they are so much better than a family sleeping out in the rain or huddled under the ripped-out-rafters of their old house.

          In parts of the country with less seriously cold weather, ShelterBoxes could actually contribute to a temporary housing solution. But many cities would see them as "tents" or "camping" and outlaw them just as they have other tent cities.

      •  yes indeed, single-family homes of ALL sorts are (6+ / 0-)

        inherently less efficient than multiple-unit buildings, for all the reasons you cite.

        That's why the Soviet Union and North Korea built huge cement-block apartment buildings with communal facilities to house their people---it's a lot cheaper than building the same number of single-family homes. Only big wealthy wasteful economies like ours can afford one house per family, with their own bathroom.

        But there are times when "efficiency" is not the most important consideration . . . .

        In the end, reality always wins.

        by Lenny Flank on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 10:14:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And you think living in those cement block (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sand Hill Crane

          apartments is going to be the solution to all the problems surrounding homeless people?

          You know how many space is wasted for parking lots in US cities? To think that there is not enough space for single small homes in the US seems to me really "off the point".

          People waste land here as if there is no tomorrow. There is enough space around even in cities, you just need to change laws so that the human homeless person has more right to a space than your car.

          There is millions of square miles of land unused for human settlements. May be one should start looking at this before claiming single tiny homes are ineffecient.

        •  Soviet Union cement-block apartments (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          plumbobb, Cassandra Waites, FG, claude

          obviously went too far in the name of efficiency. So did U.S. housing projects of the mid-20th century.

          But apartments in general are not a bad solution. Apartments built with human factors in mind can be pleasant, comfortable spaces; lots of people, including wealthy people, choose to live in apartments and condos.

          It is important that the buildings not be too big - huge residential buildings have historically not worked well. It is important that they be built to be aesthetically pleasing and look like homes. But there's no reason to believe that it's important that they be disjoint. There are a ton of advantages to microapartments over tiny houses - better security, better access to utilities, better energy efficiency, and even nicer views.

          This article has a picture of the microapartments I live in:

          It's cute. It's comfortable. It's safe and very, very warm (my heater hasn't kicked on once today and my room is still at 75 - the insulation is phenomenal). And it's dirt cheap to build on a per-tenant basis. Which makes it obscenely profitable for the private developers renting to people like me, but it would also make the same sort of thing eminently practical for a nonprofit group looking for a cost-effective way to house homeless people.

          This development houses over 60 people on roughly the same amount of land as a shelter of the same size, probably cost roughly the same amount to build, and has lower staffing requirements (since tenants have private rooms with locks, bathrooms, and kitchenettes, you can cut most of the supervision, security, and food preparation requirements of a communal shelter).

          Why not go for something like that? Why tiny houses with no proper running water and electricity, where security will always be a problem and the legal status will always be dubious at best?

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 03:30:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  NIMBY (0+ / 0-)

            Micro apartments are a nice idea, but neighbors don't want a building full of homeless in their area.

            BTW, The financing of an apartment building is way out of the range of OM Build.

            "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

            by Sand Hill Crane on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 05:02:54 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  thing is, I can go on Craig's List (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        anywhere and buy quite a lot of small used travel trailer,  with all the utilities installed, for a couple or three thousand dollars.

        The issue isn't whether these little houses qualify as proper "houses" or not.  The issue is where do all these little houses poop?  In little tanks?  Travel trailers have that.  Travel tailer parks have a poop pipe run to each parking slot, along with water and electricity.

        Travel trailers also happen to have established codes for venues of concentrated trailer occupancy.  There is a nice tidy zoning code slot for that concept.  

        The pretty little houses are essentially a sop to the feelings of the homeless, so they won't suffer the indignity of living in a tent,  or a trailer.

        don't always believe what you think

        by claude on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:16:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not "sop" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Phoenix Woman

          OM Build tiny homes cost around $3,500.  They are well insulated, have real Oak floors, LED lighting and a bathroom with an incinerating toilet. They have big window to bring in natural light and they look like a home.  You can't buy a travel trailer for $3,500 and if you could, it would need a massive amount of work to be as nice inside as a Tiny House.

          You call it "sop", but after 2 years of being stymied by the City of Madison and Dane County because no one wants the homeless to live near them, OM Build is doing the best they can for the homeless and that means building tiny houses, one by one.

          You call it "sop", but to the formerly homeless couple who moved into their tiny house on Christmas Eve, owning a home is a radical positive change in their lives. Having a real bed, with real walls with insulation and real windows, storage for their belongings and a private bathroom, means the world to them. Sometimes we have to let go of our dream of perfection and just do the best we can. For OM Build, that "best we can" is building tiny homes so homeless individuals can stop being "homeless" and can create a new identity for themselves.

          "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

          by Sand Hill Crane on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 10:56:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Some cities (16+ / 0-)

      can do this, but not all. This would be totally unworkable in NYC, where I live, because we simply do not have sufficient open space to put the houses on. I don't know of a single church with a parking lot, for instance, and I'm not just talking about Manhattan.

      Subsidized housing is the only way to go here, and we need more of it, pronto.

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:05:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I understand sidnora (16+ / 0-)

        I love this idea and it would be great for my part of the country, but not yours. We need to be innovative in our approach. Like Phoenix, SLC, and iirc Minneapolis are leading in ending homelessness for Vets, places like Madison are leading in helping the homeless population in general.

        We just accept that there will always be homeless, like there is nothing we can do about it. That may be true for a tiny part of the homeless I can't be absolute, but I do think that if we just had the will we could end it for the vast majority.

        Each area of the country needs to look at what is possible and what is necessary and then do it.

        And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County Down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away. John Prine

        by high uintas on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:35:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree strongly (10+ / 0-)

          With everything you've said here. Including having the will to make it happen.

          In the 12 years we had Mayor Emperor Bloomberg, the number of homeless families in my city has about doubled. While he did everything possible to attract the wealthy and the super-wealthy, more and more children were going to sleep in shelters, or worse. I sure hope this is going to start changing next week.

          "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

          by sidnora on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:50:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  you can't expect the homeless to move to a space (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        out of the inner city and create their own communities with pre-fab units they can put up themselves?

        The reason why those tiny house units can't succeed is because they still need to be build by others and not by themselves.

        I hope that Ikea or others will engage in offering pre-fabricated parts to build a housing unit according to special codes that the Federal Government would have to approve for being put up in any free space that needs to be zoned for those buildings.

        I don't want Ikea making profit of the situation. I think there needs a non-for-profit program that works with companies together to offer homes that can be put together by the homeless person itself. The costs for such homes needs then to be subsidized once (not the rent for it but to buy the housing kits).

        To me it's not acceptable to say there is not enough space.
        There is plenty of space everywhere in the US, it's just not used and owned in ways that would give the poor a way to get out of their poverty.

        •  Progressive communities can do it (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sidnora, kyril, Sand Hill Crane

          In Olympia, WA, volunteers, contractors, even students wanting to learn construction basics participated in building tiny homes for the homeless.

        •  Future occupants do help build their house (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, high uintas

          All of the future occupants of OM Build Tiny Houses do help build their house. People are learning new skills, but the construction is monitored by people who are adept at building.

          "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

          by Sand Hill Crane on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 05:06:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think code-abiding self-building housing kits (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            should be developed (and I remember having seen convincing ones, way more stable than typical wooden/drywall huts). Homeless should get into a program where they can buy at very low cost with a loan program such units. Then they should get permission to lease public land with leases for life at low cost. Governments need to change zoning codes so that such areas are located within city areas or suburban ones.

            The cost for the kit, if they are still not affordable for the average homeless person, should be subsidized. The homeless person should completely build their own structure with those kits they way THEY want to have it. THEY know what the want and what they need. Professional "help" should be as little as possible. The more a homeless person can see that it can do work itself on its new home, the more he/she will take care of that home and grow roots and pride in their work.

            •  Have you built a house alone? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I ask because putting a roof on a house is tricky even when you know what you're doing. It could be downright impossible if you are doing it alone.

              That said, your emphasis on the homeless building their house alone misses a very important point.

              In America, the homeless are rarely seen as being part of the community. At best the homeless are ignored and at worst they are attacked as being outsiders.

              You missed that the OM Build tiny houses are being built by people from all parts of the community. The homeless person who will soon occupy the tiny house becomes part of the community as everyone is working on the tiny house together. The homeless person becomes part of the community and is no longer invisible.


              "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

              by Sand Hill Crane on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:01:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  No, but if the Ikea kit for emergency shelter (0+ / 0-)

                homes comes out and adds some more items as it has right now, I would.

                IKEA Unveils Solar-Powered Flat Pack Shelters for Easily Deployable Emergency Housing

                Ikea needs to develop a "de luxe" version of that kit with different walls and bio-degradable toilet and a solution for water access and showers. I have seen another kit once, whose walls were much stronger and it had inside kitchen and shower area included, with solar panels that seemed more stable and permanent. These were also kits which could be erected almost by themselves.

                •  Let's get real (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Phoenix Woman

                  The Ikea kits weren't designed for northern winters. They have plastic walls, you can see light between the panels and the panels aren't insulated. They sit directly on the ground. These kits would be little better than living inside a tent!

                  It was -12º in Madison last week and it isn't even the coldest part of winter. The ground is frozen, but it defrosts near heat sources and that means mud. Wisconsin can have blizzards, which is very heavy snow and 70+ mph winds. The IKEA kit doesn't have a roof that can hold snow that is 12" deep.

                  The IKEA kit probably works okay in Syria, but it isn't designed for Wisconsin winters.

                  "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

                  by Sand Hill Crane on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 11:13:51 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  NYC has millions of flat roofs (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and the ones that don't have veggie gardens or solar panels could have a couple of tiny houses. Just saying -- space is where you find it, and when it's valuable enough, it magically appears.

        Heck, these things seem to take up about as much space as one largish vehicle in a parking garage. And a lot less than the lavish lobbies in banks, hotels, and upscale apartment buildings.

        •  Unfortunately, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, Cassandra Waites

          many of those roofs belong to buildings that wouldn't let me live in them, let alone a homeless family.

          I'm not kidding. There was recently an expose of a new luxury apartment building that had gotten tax breaks and/or easements for including a certain percentage of affordable-housing units in the building. Now remember, this isn't even housing for the homeless - it's for moderate-income families, what would probably be considered middle class or maybe lower middle class in most places. Well, they built the units, all right. But they built a separate entrance for the part of the building where they were located. They don't even want to see ordinary people in their building, unless they work there.

          From a more practical POV, building structures on existing apartment-house roofs can be problematic, depending on the weight of the structure. We have a deck on our roof that has caused leakages continually, despite innumerable efforts to correct and repair the problem, and we can't even let people walk on the undecked portion because that causes even worse damage. A re-roofing job costs us $10-20K. Buildings that have superstructures added, and there are some in my area, had to have the entire roof and half of the top floor removed and the understructure reinforced before adding the superstructure. That kind of work runs into 6 figures.

          "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

          by sidnora on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 02:04:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  In Australia (I think this was around the 1950s) (0+ / 0-)

      A philanthropist established a small community just outside Sydney, the families that moved in helped build the houses, and were essentially given them at cost. They were nothing flash and obviously the requirements have changed in recent years but the idea and implementation remains sound.
      Now the community still exists, and most of the houses were extended over the years by the families, most never left it actually seems. But it's a friendly community and the families appreciated the help at a time it was needed most, like I said I think it was not long after WWII, but it could have been the 1920s as easily. The biggest thing I remember from the accounts of those involved in constructing it came from the boost to their own self image, they were providing for their families, contributing to the welfare of their neighbours, and doing something meaningful in general while training in some cases new or rusty skills.
      This sort of project can do a lot of good for those involved.

  •  Tiny homes (44+ / 0-)

    I regularly follow the tiny house community and had read where one of the proposals for using tiny homes has long been to shelter homeless people.  The biggest problems that tiny homes come up against are building and zoning codes which often require a minimum total square footage for a residence and minimum sizes for kitchen and bathroom spaces and provide no places in which they can be located.

    So far, those in the tiny house community have gotten around these regs by building them on trailers and registering them as recreational vehicles to park in the back yard of a friendly homeowner.  The other alternative has been for people to locate them in unincorporated areas where there is no zoning regulations.  

    Both of these work arounds do not address the great potential these structure have to help people in our society with housing issues.  They certainly are a much better solution than having people camp out in tents in the freezing weather in that they provide a safe place for people to live at a minimal cost.  It is past time for our govts. to realize that these structures have a bonified use in our society and revamp code requirements to reflect that.

    Kudos to Occupy Madison for being among the first to actually put a program into place to help people.  And some here still think Occupy was a failure and a waste. Not so. Every time we turn around, a local Occupy group is doing productive and interesting things to help our fellow citizens.

    "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "It was a really naked declaration of imperialism." ~ Jeremy Scahill on Obama's speech to the UN

    by gulfgal98 on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 08:02:57 AM PST

  •  IRC requires no room to be less than 120 sf... (0+ / 0-)

    so it's hard to see how these could be located on private land and any any way occupied as habitable, per code.

  •  Austin, TX (21+ / 0-)

    Austin's Mobile Loaves and Fishes is about to begin a small-housing project (cabins, Tepees, etc) on a large piece of property for the chronically homeless pop in town.  See the video:

  •  It looked like (14+ / 0-)

    a composting toilet?

    What about water and electricity hookups?

    I'm thinking there are some major obstacles to overcome which will require local agencies to become a lot more flexible.

    Ordinances that keep people safe from dying in unsafely converted garages, etc., need to be reviewed to make sure they aren't keeping good projects like this from getting off the ground.

  •  These are really cute, (10+ / 0-)

    but practically speaking, it would be a lot more efficient to house the homeless in larger, multi-unit buildings with shared walls that consume far less energy per unit to heat, and can be built with common areas hang out in and provide a venue for social services as well. The problem being, of course, that in an era of stingy social service budgets it's hard to put together the resources to do things right, and the tiny houses are a good example of what a small group without adequate resources can do to make things better.

    "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

    by Alice in Florida on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 08:51:40 AM PST

  •  Olympia WA just finished a functioning version (30+ / 0-)

    It's called Quixote Village. The idea is small houses with a central communal building with kitchens and showers. The little houses do not have kitchens but they do have houses. It started out as a homeless tent village moving from church parking lot to church parking lot.

    Now they have a permanent location with the tiny houses in a fixed location. My husband's business was honored to do the counter tops at a greatly reduced price.

      •  I love that! (4+ / 0-)

        When mr.u went to college he lived in an old motel in Pocatello. It was little individual places, one main building and a central bath and shower house. Of course the place with filled with hippies and it was wonderful. This reminds me of what the used to call "The Ghetto" in Pocy.

        And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County Down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away. John Prine

        by high uintas on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 10:06:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am intrigued that they went with a communal (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          high uintas, kyril, Sand Hill Crane

          kitchen and showers but I think it will really help in fostering a community. We didn't get involved in the project until the very end so I don't know much about the decision making but it looks like it's going to be a very nice and livley community.

          ...and I'm sure there will be a few old hippies around, well at least I hope so. Here's an article in the local paper about the move in on Christmas Eve. What a great Christmas present. I'm proud of my community for making this happen.

          •  You should be proud (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kyril, Sand Hill Crane

            I think it's awesome. I'm guessing that the communal kitchen/showers was a problem solver to make as much room as possible available to the people and community is important.

            And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County Down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away. John Prine

            by high uintas on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 03:18:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I actually don't believe that is true on the long (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              run. I think that each persons needs her personal tiny area where they can prepare food. A communal kitchen is needed as well, but should not replace your own private cooking area. And if the communal showers don't offer enough privacy, I do believe it's not a long-term solution as well.

              The reason I say that is because if you look at third world countries you will see that kitchens are not communal but based on which person cooks for what kind of number of people, usually women for their family and extended families.
              Even in polygamy there is no communal kitchen for all the women of one man, each woman has her own kitchen. It has been shown that men in polygamy, who tried to transplant those living arrangements into Europe (France) and had put several of his wives in one apartment building with one kitchen for several women was complete disaster and not going to work (as well as I think outlawed in France after those living situations have been witnessed).

              There are homeless families with children who would like to raise their children in non-communal environments as well as use communal ones. So, I believe that the communal facility should not replace single unit kitchens of the home units, but be valuable additions to them.

              •  There is no "one size fits all" solution (0+ / 0-)

                Families with children, say more than a couple and one child wouldn't fit in one of those houses as it is, I'm thinking it would fit a couple at most. Why can't this be a solution for single homeless with a different way of dealing with families.

                A communal kitchen doesn't mean that everyone eats dinner together. The facilities are centralized but there is no law against preparing a dish and going home to eat it. I do think that the people will end up pooling resources a lot, however.

                And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County Down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away. John Prine

                by high uintas on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:38:37 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Our area doesn't have a shelter for families. (0+ / 0-)

                  There is one for women and children and a couple for men, small ones.  There is never enough room for either.  People line up starting at noon for a spot that will open at 4.  Maybe.  The first time I found out about the situation for the homeless in our area, was one Thanksgiving in the 80's when a friend called us and asked if we could find room in our house for a young couple with a baby from Iowa who had come to Florida with the promise of a job that turned out not to exist.  The people they were staying with were throwing them out, the local shelters wouldn't let them stay together.  They were maybe early 20's.  The baby boy was 5 months old.  This friend was a young man we took in as a teen when his dad threw him out while his mom was in a mental ward.  We took the couple in, they stayed a week on our sofa bed, then a neighbor with an extra room offered to let them live there.  Eventually they got out on their own, got jobs, did ok, but eventually went home to Iowa.  The neighbor who helped them got good karma from it.  She moved to Illinois to take care of her mom, won the lottery there, cared for her mom til she died, and went to school to become a nurse.  She came back to our area and I ran into her at a local hospital when my son was having surgery.  She was his nurse!  I was so glad she had good fortune.  She deserved it and did good with it.  

            •  More likely it's purely a logistical arrangement. (0+ / 0-)

              Having centralized water usage and cooking arrangements makes for easier construction, maintenance, and reduces the hassles related to plumbing (I never understand people that plan buildings with a bathroom across the building from the water heater and/or kitchen, it's just inefficient).
              A place where I used to live briefly it took 10 minutes for hot water to get from the heater to the bathroom due to the amount of piping it had to travel through to get there plus pumping up hill.

  •  I thnk there are any number of wys that (17+ / 0-)

    the homeless can be sheltered and I am so happy that some compassionate communities are doing what they can to ease the situation.

    When I was in college I lived in a great little complex of studio apartments - I often wonder why something so simple isn't part of the solution; also a return to the concept of boarding houses where a person could simply rent a safe single room at a comparatively small rental. Plus, in the older days, organizations like the YMCA and the YWCA used to have dorm style housing for single people.

    The housing in most areas today seems to be mostly of the "upscale" variety while peoples incomes on the other hand have plummeted at the same time that gas, utilities, insurances, food and all the other costs of day to day living continue to go up - obviously the divergence of what is necessary and what can be afforded will continue to expand.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:33:03 AM PST

    •  On the Hill in Pittsburgh (3+ / 0-)

      in the old days, across the street from where my grandparents and great-grandparents and various aunts and uncles lived in a multi-generational row house, was the YWCA. It was essentially a women's residential hotel, it had an indoor pool, and off the lobby a whole row of automat style vending machines that we kids used to visit with any quarters we could find.

      Like the row house the YWCA was torn down to make the parking lot for the Civic Arena that was built in the 60s.

      •  The YWCA I know is still around... (0+ / 0-)

        However it's essentially just a hotel now and has been for decades. I stayed there the last time I had to go to Sydney (it's called "The Y on the park" if you feel like having a look, Oxford street), had an awards ceremony to attend and 3/4 of the group were male.

        •  Our area still has a Y that they use for homeless (0+ / 0-)

          women.  It is small, just a few rooms, always full, but there is a program there that helps the women get back on their feet and move into permenant housing. It is one of the better ones in our area.  I knew someone who lived there a while, helped them alot.

  •  OM Build is on Facebook (11+ / 0-)

    Learn more about Occupy Madison and OM Build's tiny houses by Liking them and following them on Facebook: OM Build - Tiny Houses

    If you wish to help OM Build's efforts, they are always looking for more volunteers. You can also donate to OM Build so they can continue to build tiny homes with and for people without homes.
    Mail donations to:
        Occupy Madison, Inc.
        PO Box 949
        Madison, WI 53701

    or online via OM Build's fiscal agent's website (Scroll down to the Occupy Madison, Inc. button on the left).

    "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

    by Sand Hill Crane on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:40:30 AM PST

  •  I like the spirit of the people (13+ / 0-)

    who are doing this work, but feel that in a country with between 14 to 18 MILLION unoccupied homes it would be wiser to focus on making those accessible. That feels like a bigger "nut" to crack, but reinventing the wheel with homes that have to be moved around every few days is not optimum. Fighting for reduction of income inequality, job and infrastructure programs, increased minimum wage etc. are systemic answers to problems that can't be solved with 3.5 million tiny houses. (Estimated number of homeless in US). I often felt the same way about Habitat for Humanity -- how do we choose who "gets" help? I'd sure like to help in building a home for me and my family. Who decides? Individual solutions to endemic problems. (Yes, I do feel like a Grinch posting this.)

    Now, tiny homes as an option for moving off the grid...? Or for living consciously (with proper zoning adjustments)? -- I have to admit I dream of a tiny home on a New Mexico mesa.

    •  No "one size fits all" IMO (18+ / 0-)

      Each area needs to say "That's it, no more homeless. We will fix it." and then do it. Cities are different and areas of the country are different, so why not use methods that work for each locale? This is one solution, but not the only solution.

      And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County Down by the Green River where Paradise lay. Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away. John Prine

      by high uintas on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:49:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I completely agree (8+ / 0-)

        My frustration is definitely not with those who are using creative means to help in any way possible. My work is in NYC and we are frustrated to see so many empty apartments (not luxury ones by any means) and so many homeless. In Manhattan in the 70s there was an active squatter movement in the East Village that worked toward gaining the abandoned buildings legally with some success -- so true that no one size fits all.

      •  To be cynical...all areas have to say that at once (0+ / 0-)

        I learned an interesting term while in DC:  "Greyhound therapy".  Cities that cannot or do not want to accommodate the homeless or long-term unemployed give them one-way bus tickets somewhere that's friendlier or has more opportunities.  

        "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

        by Yamaneko2 on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 11:15:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Banks don't care about the homeless (8+ / 0-)

      Banks hold the majority of the titles to unoccupied homes and they aren't giving them away for free to anyone.

      There is also the issue of maintaining a full sized home with little or no income. The Tiny Homes need little maintenance and use very little energy as the sun provides most of the energy used. A homeless person can move into a well insulated Tiny House and spend whatever money they have mostly on themselves, not on heating, cooling and maintaining a full sized house. Tiny Houses will allow people to use their money on more than basic house maintenance, perhaps buying needed work clothes, bus passes, washes at the laundromat.

      Moving the homeless into full sized homes would require outside financial support to maintain the home and financial support means more control by the entity providing the funds. Tiny Houses allow people to be more independent.

      "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

      by Sand Hill Crane on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:55:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I understand... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        high uintas, flowerfarmer, kyril

        ...and was looking at it more from my urban viewpoint to be sure. I'm not sure how it would work to occupy so-called "McMansions" -- perhaps groups of people? volunteers who help modify the homes for fuel and living efficiency? large yards used as food gardens? I do understand there's no one size fits all solution and the work is on so many different fronts -- just wish that we could utilize a lot more of what is already built / out there, rather than building more. And, that we could attack homelessness with broader opportunity as well as shelter. A girl can dream....

      •  Who said they need to give them away for free? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        reginahny, Calamity Jean, kyril

        But why not make some money rather than leaving them completely empty and getting nothing back (in fact, losing money as the property devalues from disuse)?

      •  Then maybe send inspectors in. (0+ / 0-)

        Seriously...make it difficult and expensive to maintain housing without occupants.  That means making sure the grass NEVER grows above 8 inches and the sidewalks get shoveled during snowstorms.  

        "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

        by Yamaneko2 on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 11:18:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  So, from the OM site, it looks like the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sand Hill Crane, kyril

    homeless will be permitted to stay in the homes so long as they:

    - Work 32 hours for Occupy Madison.
    - Refrain from drinking anywhere but in the house.
    - Attend all Occupy Madison meetings

    They can be kicked out by a majority vote of the board of directors of Occupy Madison.

  •  Who moves them? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If they're only allowed to be parked for 48 hours on the street?
    Where would the black water holding tank (toilet) or gray water tanks be dumped?
    Wouldn't there have to be access to septic or dumping stations?
    And how would they get there to dump?
    What about running water?
    Or electricity?
    What about propane for heat and hot water?
    How would they get the propane tanks filled?

    Plus, wouldn't they need to be licensed, just like a RV trailer?
    Those license plates usually expire annually.

    If there are plans for a small city, wouldn't they need septic, running water, and electrical hookups?

  •  I have mixed feelings about such projects. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    reginahny, left of center, kyril, plumbobb

    Sure, a micro-home is way better than a tent. But it seems that building second-class housing for folks in need only ratifies their second-class status in society.

    And the numbers are daunting. There are 23,000 people using services for the homeless in Wisconsin. 3500 are classified as "chronically homeless".

    I'm all in favor of doing "what you can, where you can", but I worry that volunteer efforts do little more than "enable" official complacency toward this problem.

    FEMA has something like 40,000 trailers in storage. Many have been sold as surplus for a thousand bucks and many more have sold for less as scrap. You could probably auction off one of these hand-crafted cottages and buy four used travel trailers with the proceeds.

    But if a churches would rather see one of these quaint cottages in their parking lot than an ugly white FEMA trailer, this is the way to go.

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 11:35:31 AM PST

    •  FEMA trailers notorious for mold problems (0+ / 0-)

      FEMA trailers are notorious for having mold and mildew problems. That is the reason they are being sold as scrap.

      The OM Build tiny houses were built for Madison weather with enough insulation to keep the house warm in frigid weather, cool in summer. The roof is metal to encourage snow to slide off.

      Officials aren't complacent, they just don't care about the homeless. The Madison mayor wants to add security guards to the City-County Building to keep out the homeless who come in the building during the winter, but he also isn't interested in building a "warming" shelter for Madison's homeless to have a warm place to stay on freezing winter days.

      There is absolutely no talk by any elected official of building housing for the homeless in Madison. Occupy Madison is the only group that has made housing for the homeless an issue that needs to be solved.

      "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

      by Sand Hill Crane on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:27:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Are those the FEMA trailers with formaldehyde? (0+ / 0-)

      Or did they get rid of those?

      © cai Visit to join the fight against global warming.

      by cai on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:37:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. The problem trailers have been scrapped. (0+ / 0-)

        The FEMA trailers in storage are not as well-made as typical vacation trailer, but compared to a cardboard shanty, they look pretty good.

        My point is that manufactured homes - from camp trailers to double-wides - are an established form of low-income housing in this country.

        We have the production capacity in place, and municipal officials are much more familiar with them in regards to permits and utility hookups.

        Building these cottages with volunteer labor may keep the cost down, building them on wheels for use in temporary locations may deflect some NIMBY opposition, but building them by hand can only begin to scratch the surface of the tremendous need.

        I applaud the effort, just like I praise the volunteers who build homes one-at-a-time for Habitat for Humanity.

        As a demonstration of commitment, building micro-homes is very noticeable. For the handful of people who get to live in one, they're a godsend. But as a solution to the problem of homelessness... they have limits.

        “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
        he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

        by jjohnjj on Mon Dec 30, 2013 at 04:15:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Formaldehyde is in many modern building materials, (0+ / 0-)

        as well as carpeting.  This is a problem with all mobile homes, all campers, all stick built homes as well, as well as modular homes.  When we bought our new double wide 8 years ago, there was a big sticker on the door that said to open all windows and doors and air out the home for several days to reduce the formaldehyde gases. We did so.  That new carpet smell, new car smell everyone loves is Formaldehyde gas.  Our home was somewhat better than others because it was a Palm Harbor home, which doesn't use particle board in construction but instead marine grade plywood.  There is still some formaldehye in that, but not as much and it creates a stronger, less likely to mold and more ridgid home.  All in all we are satisfied with the quality of construction of it, with a few minor issues, mostly from the plumbing, which is flexible tubing and a pain if it springs a leak.  Anyway, those trailers could have been made usable, with some airing out and maybe a few modifications.  I know of locals who bought some of them and used them as campers or as housing for a relative on their property.  In my area, technically it is not allowed but its so rural no one notices or cares.  Most farms aroung here have a motorhome or small trailer setting in a field or under a polebarn with someone, a relative or farm worker, staying in it.  When I was a child, I lived for 5 years in an old bus my grandfather turned into a motorhome and we parked it at my great grandmothers and lived there.  Me, my grandparents, my mom, and occasionally, others in the family lived in it.  No bath or running water, used my greats outhouse, bathed in a galvanized tub, hauled water from a spring. I am glad I experienced that, makes me appreciate what I have more.

  •  I like the tiny house movement. (4+ / 0-)‎

    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam> "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." Edna St.V. Millay

    by slouching on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 11:44:57 AM PST

  •  As a Madisonian..... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    QuelleC, kyril, Sand Hill Crane

    I'm proud of our community for at least trying to make shelter for the homeless.

    Brenda Konkel, a tireless community activist,made this happen as an outreach effort from our own Occupy Madison. I'm sure it beats camping outdoors during our cold winter nights.

    Thanks Brenda!!

    We must be the change we wish to see in the world. - Gandhi

    by left of center on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 12:52:41 PM PST

  •  Sub-code sizing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, plumbobb, Sand Hill Crane

    I'm 100% for this but building codes across America must first be changed-most call for a min. s.f. that is a multiple of this as our homes serve as basis for exploitive property taxes, and excessively large homes drives our consumptive economy that must sell more more more!  
    PS I lived with my wife for 2&1/2 years in an 8'x27' travel trailer in '81. Simple and Small!!

  •  Communes anybody? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm a little overwhelmed by all of the comments here, and I will definitely read them and have mixed feelings. Definitely a step up from cots on the floor and I applaud UW Madison for pursuing this. But I feel a little bit like "this is all the poor deserve." (Hell, isn't that what Walker and Ryan are telling us?) Aren't these Hoovervilles? What about a lot of us in the donut hole - too old to hire, too young to retire - have many skills in farming, cooking, preserving food, child care, sewing, computers, knowledge of insurance and taxes, etc.  I'd be a member of that kind of community and contribute more than full time.  I'm a dreamer.  But I'm not the only one.

    •  There's co-housing in Madison... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There are 2 co-housing communities in Madison        The Village Cohousing Community was Madison's first complete cohousing project.

      The Arboretum Cohousing is a newer and larger project:

      "Arboretum Cohousing includes 29 new homes in 2 beautiful, multi-family buildings connected by a cool underground tunnel, 3 rehabbed townhouse homes, a duplex built by Habitat for Humanity, and 6 existing single-family homes. We are within walking distance to the revitalized downtown Madison, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Edgewood College.

      Our 6000 square foot common house has meeting and kitchen facilities overlooking Lake Wingra. Our terraced, 2.2 acre site is a paradise for kids of all ages with many safe nooks and crannies to explore, as well as the Lake Wingra beach and Vilas Zoo just around the corner. Arbco is member-developed and member-managed."

      However, Co-housing fills a different need. Co-housing isn't free. You buy your way into a co-housing community.

      "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

      by Sand Hill Crane on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 05:22:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've visited Madison's communities (0+ / 0-)

        and don't neglect the third one, not on all lists: Troy Gardens, created by the Madison Area Community Land Trust, and specifically designed to be permanently affordable, serving people of low and moderate incomes. It doesn't yet have a Common House, although one remains on the plans.

        Yes, the 136 US cohousing neighborhoods (I've visited over 100, and lived in two) are mostly market-rate homeowner opportunities for people who can afford the investment to live in smaller homes with more community, to have our own kitchens but share meals up to several times a week, to design for interaction.

        That said, every community has done something for affordability (like the Habitat for Humanity partnership at Arboretum), and there are now some 100% affordable homeowner and rental cohousing neighborhoods emerging, but there's no easy path, universal solution, or magic funding source for this.

        There's been talk about Tiny Home Cohousing, but it has run into many of the obstacles cited on this post's comments.


        P.S. Cohousing is in the American Heritage Dictionary, so no  hyphen is necessary.

  •  I've been following the 'tiny houses' trend (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sand Hill Crane, kyril

    for a number of years now.

    Following the Great Recession, I'm surprised that the idea of building them hasn't become part of the 'big discussion' in America.

    These 'tiny homes' are just like a regular house, but on a tiny egalitarian scheme. Just the basics.

    Here's a great site all about the Tiny House Movement: the Tiny House Movement

    "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"

    by Angie in WA State on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 04:02:15 PM PST

  •  Long term solution needed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The issue is, what policy will bring world population growth under control since that is the problem. Zoning and other interim measures only prolong the problem and avoid its cause.

    •  well, if I were homeless, I wouldn't wait (3+ / 0-)

      to get my shelter til some policies are developed that bring population growth under control. And I would like to add that each person has the right to procreate and can't be forced to not to. It's a human right to have a child, right?

      Who are the people who will decide how many children I can raise or not? How many people are poor and homeless and have no children.

      They are not the ones who over-populate the world. There is a reaction for any action and any overpopulated area will in the end go through events that will reduce the population without anyone asking for "population control".

    •  Not relevant to this discussion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

      by Sand Hill Crane on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 05:12:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Several years ago, Rickman House, an SRO (3+ / 0-)

    for special needs adults here in Kalamazoo, was renovated at a cost of $12.3 million -- into 46 efficiency apartments.

    That's $265,000 per resident.

    Lots of outrage followed, but it turned out that was the best option  given the strings attached to the Federal money that was part of the project. About half of that was 'soft' costs, half construction.

    Constructing a new building was not an option, because the existing old hotel had a mortgage several times what it could have brought at market.

    To undertake the renovation, Kisinger-Rothi said she is relying on "at least six different federal, state and local governmental programs regulating every aspect of the Rickman House redevelopment."

    Federal rules require paying the project's construction workers prevailing union wage rates, she said, while myriad oversight costs and "layers" of regulations add more costs.

    These are things we like -- but go pretty far in explaining why these sorts of projects are rare enough so they do not solve the homelessness problem.

    Mark E. Miller // Kalamazoo Township Trustee // MI 6th District Democratic Chair

    by memiller on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 06:06:40 PM PST

    •  this is the classic challenge of 'affordable' (0+ / 0-)

      housing… the rules that come with many sources of funds that make it possible, lead it to be more expensive than market-rate homes… in many cases because it doesn't allow costs to be buried/hidden/deferred, or left for future completion/investment by residents/projects that wouldn't be able to afford it.

  •  Abe Lincoln (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sand Hill Crane

    Born and raised in a one-room cabin.  He turned out okay.

  •  Developing the concept further... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh, bluedust, DavidMS

    Make 'em a bit bigger, around 200 square feet, essentially the size of  homesteader's home. That gives a bit more room to work with while still being low and narrow enough to build off site and transport easily. Put them on a slab with permanent utility connections, a couple could fit on a city lot with space for gardens.

  •  There's a Move in Day Video (0+ / 0-)

    on the OM Build facebook page Move in

    Think Progress has also picked up the story!  Homeless Couple Gets A Home On Christmas Eve, Thanks To Innovative ‘Occupy’ Group

    "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

    by Sand Hill Crane on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:15:24 PM PST

  •  Good for them. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh, Sand Hill Crane

    I read somewhere recently that one in ten houses in the U.S. is currently empty.  Owned by banks, or speculators, or who knows?  It seems ludicrous to me that we have millions of empty houses and millions of homeless people.

    Of course, some of these houses aren't built in logical areas -- suburban sprawl is out of hand.

    Point is, we're not facing a housing shortage -- we're facing a shortage of giveafuck when it comes to getting and keeping people in their homes.

    © cai Visit to join the fight against global warming.

    by cai on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 07:34:58 PM PST

  •  Why not 3D print them? (0+ / 0-)

    You could print hundreds of these houses in the same time at a small fraction of the labor and material costs.

    Here are twelve minutes of details from Behrokh Khoshnevis at TEDxOjai.

    Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Arthur Ashe

    by mofus on Fri Dec 27, 2013 at 09:57:26 PM PST

  •  This is wonderful for those getting off the (0+ / 0-)

    streets and is workable in some places.  Here is another way:

    With the millions of empty homes in this country right now, no-one should be going without a roof over their head.

    "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

    by MRA NY on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 07:22:54 AM PST

  •  Cosmic Convergence (0+ / 0-)

    Your post really struck me because I spent a long time at youtube recently when I came across the Tiny Home Movement.  I live in a house I don't use so I was really intriqued.  They cover pre-built, self-built, yurts and some lovely shipping containers.

  •  Sigh. (0+ / 0-)

    I admit that there is something inspiring in the intent, but ultimately this movement is a surrender in the class war. In many other countries, there is nothing new about villages of microhouses springing up on available land proximal to cities -- they're called shantytowns.

    Once it becomes culturally acceptable for the most destitute to live in such spaces, it will soon enough after be culturally acceptable for people with minimum wage jobs to live in such spaces, and soon after that, for people with minimum wage jobs and small children to live in such spaces, etc. etc. etc.

    We're already seeing this drift in the microapartment phenomenon in NYC and other cities (documented in other comments in this thread). The plutocrats will inexorably grant the rest of us less and less and less as a minimum "decent" standard of living.

    Many of the building codes mentioned in the comments with which plumbbob is irritating everyone exist precisely, not to establish some sort of bourgeois American suburban standard, but to prevent landlords from jamming the poor into tenements, by doing things like throwing a wall with a door across an alcove and calling the result a bedroom. Similarly, landlords who aren't interested in becoming slumlords include in their leases clauses forbidding the use of ad hoc room dividers to create additional private spaces -- i.e., bedrooms. No, they don't do it for the benefit of their tenants, they do it to maintain the value of their properties by controlling the demographics of the occupants (thus, I did once view a "two-bedroom" student apartment that lacked a living room). Both building and zoning codes are designed around, as much as anything else, controlling density. They represent a tense semi-alliance between elements of the forces of Good (no slums, please) and elements of the forces of Greed (most cities are run by and for the interests of the real estate developers and landlords, with a secondary nod towards home owners).

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 07:31:06 AM PST

    •  So what would you do? (0+ / 0-)

      You criticize the Tiny Houses, but don't offer a solution that would give the homeless a home.

      What would you do for the homeless right now?

      "We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ~ "Fighting Bob" - Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

      by Sand Hill Crane on Sat Dec 28, 2013 at 11:24:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's a fair question. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Oh Mary Oh

        I can't pretend to have a bullet-proof answer to one of the most intractable problems in human history, but the beginnings of my answer lie in my original statement, that this is a surrender in the class war.

        We cannot ever sustain a "decent" standard of comfort for more than a small fraction of the population if we do not, once and for all, win the class war. What such a victory would look like in the long run, well ... I don't know. In the short run, it would have to look like this:

        A. Confiscatory taxation that counters the geometric accumulation of financial and physical wealth. There must be a mathematical clamp on how wealthy an individual can become.

        B. Guaranteed "normal" health care for everyone. Yes, there will have to be "rationing". There is always rationing. We cannot expend 100% of our resources attempting to heal every injury, cure every disease, and guarantee every life; but we can do MUCH better than we do. This particularly includes treatment for mental illness and drug addiction, 2 major causes of homelessness.

        C. Free and equal education (including vocational training) for anyone with the necessary physical/cognitive capabilities. In general, I accept Thurgood Marshall's definition of equal, though it presents major logistics challenges.

        D. Guaranteed work for anyone able and willing, at a wage that will put a roof over the worker's head.

        E. Free childcare while working, or looking for work.

        F. Free, safe, comfortable, clean mass transportation. Homelessness among the "working poor" sometimes results from them being unable to get from the places where they can afford to live to the places where they can find work.


        Why yes, it's a bit of a sociamalistic utopian worker's paradise kinda thing, isn't it? In order to guarantee everything I've just guaranteed, the government, rather than the market, is going to need to be directly in charge of 60 to 80% of the economy. (See Denmark, for comparison.)

        And that's the bottom line: If you really want to address poverty, you need to take capitalism by the short and curlies, put it in its place, and force it to work for the people, instead of the people working for capitalism. Just building places for poor people to live, a la council housing in the UK, doesn't solve the essential problem, which is that ordinary people need to be provided with shelter, food, education, transportation, community, entertainment, and work that is within their capabilities, is worth doing, and is respected by their fellows. Without the latter, a meaningful fraction of humans become pretty feral -- lacking anything else compelling and satisfying to do with themselves, they're going to end up drunk or tweaking or high as kites.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Sun Dec 29, 2013 at 08:14:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  98 sf house (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Yay!  Let's hear it for the Tiny House movement!!  And congrats to Occupy Madison for coming up with such a useful and humane application of the concept.

  •  We're becoming turtles (0+ / 0-)

    Carrying our homes on our backs.
    At least they aren't tar paper shacks for far.
    We sure got bamboozled good didn't we?
    Of course, the PTB have been building US up to this for decades so new generations have no idea what the supposed "American Dream" actually was, let alone saw it in action.
    A Social Democracy, of which I've reminded my right wing brother who thinks he's a "moderate", that we would have had NOTHING, no school no jobs no retirements no medical care ( the real stuff) if we hadn't grown up in.

    He didn't like that. He thinks he's a "self-made" man.
    Got to be careful not to get too real with him or he doesn't talk to me for months.
    I still love him tho

    •  This is not really new. I lived in a bus as a (0+ / 0-)

      child.  It was not ideal, but better than the streets.  My grandfather made it very livable.  It had bedrooms, a kitchen, no bath.  We used my greatgrandmothers outhouse.  You can go back to the conastoga wagons, to the wagons and such of the Okies in the dust bowl years, the Gypsy wagons.  People have not always lived in big homes with bathrooms and spacious kitchens.  My husband has a cousin in Southern Illinois who by choice lives in a log cabin he built and uses an outhouse.  The land he lives on is part of the property my husband's great grandfather first settled on in the 1800's.  The original land is still in the family, still being farmed by family.   In many places in this country, people live in small places, perhaps not this small, but still small, some with many family members.  We once had 11 people in a 900 square foot house with one bathroom and a galley kitchen.  I feel blessed to now have a 4 bed, 2 and a half bath, 2280 square foot mobile home on land to live in.  Sometimes it even seems too big.  Someday it probably will be when everyone is gone, if that ever happens!  For a homeless person, this will be a palace.

  •  not real property (0+ / 0-)

    Everyone seems to be focused on the codes - building and otherwise. If these are portable, they are not legally 'real property' and would fall under whatever ordinances apply to RVs or something similar. It is likely that NO building codes apply but property use (yards, parking lots, etc.) do. As long as they find a place to put them that have appropriate zoning or use variances, these are cool indeed.

  •  That is the size of my dorm room in grad school (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert, AaronInSanDiego

    at Hale Manoa at the East-West center.

    7' by 14'

    It can be done, living in that space.  Good idea.

    "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1. Keep the faith.

    by Tonga 23 on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 08:23:21 PM PST

    •  did your dorm room contain (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonga 23, Heavy Mettle

      a kitchen, bathroom, and storage?

      Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

      by AaronInSanDiego on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 08:28:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The details (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AaronInSanDiego, raines

        several rooms clustered around a common bathroom, common storage space in the unit, kitchen upstairs.
        I cooked in my room and kept a small refrigerator in it, there was closet/some storage space.  If a toilet was added the closet/storage space would shrink.   but not vanish since there were built in bookshelves-we were students-and writing desk.  So as far as I was concerned it did have a kitchen and storage space and the design could be modified to include the toilet although that would make it feel like a prison cell.

        "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1. Keep the faith.

        by Tonga 23 on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 08:39:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Rec'ed and tipped (0+ / 0-)

    when this diary first appeared. I'd like to see a lot of similar efforts in other places.

    My invisible imaginary friend is the "true" creator

    by Mr Robert on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 08:33:14 PM PST

  •  wow & wow (0+ / 0-)

    I actually LOL scrolling through this

    just wow

    don't waste any time wondering where the 'left' is

    Stand up before its too late.

    by pnchad on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 08:59:55 PM PST

  •  I really need to post (0+ / 0-)

    and never do so...

    I'm reading through this and it immediately becomes a debate on building/zoning codes - hil (fu$kin') larious

    I know a lot about friggin' building codes but my first (and still) thoughts were - how do I get this going here??

    if all the energy spent kibbitzing about BS went directly to starting a similar program in your area - just think

    F the codes - when the fascists run into a legal speed bump they immediately game the system

    no wonder we're where we're at

    Stand up before its too late.

    by pnchad on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 09:11:02 PM PST

  •  I would love to see a floor plan of this house nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  american society (0+ / 0-)

    America is an interesting society. it can afford mega size military but cannot house its homeless except thru charity.

    What is it about empires that they cannot see the writing on the wall concerning their own self destruction. they can build giant sports arenas but cannot house their homeless or overcome childhood poverty.

  •  i've been wanting a ' tiny house' for past (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    few years ever since seeing a NYT article on them for the first time.

    this just makes me want one more . I'll never make enough money in 'merica to pay a real mortgage, but I could do something like this maybe.

    been here, left, and might come back.

    by BikingForKarma on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 12:30:01 AM PST

  •  Bottle lights (0+ / 0-)

    There may also be potential for using bottle lights during the day if the little windows aren't letting in enough light. I don't know if one would want to stay in during the day. I guess it depends on the weather.

  •  The real underlying problems here are (0+ / 0-)

    1) personal debt allowing the inflation of house prices
    2) failure to provide base-line levels of state-provided housing to keep prices down
    2a) failure to provide such housing to those who need it
    3) the belief that owning property gives you the right to year on year profits, and that this has no consequences
    4) poor and over-regionalized zoning laws that do not make using land in a way that fails to benefit the local populace at the very least more expensive

    Until these are solved, this is a step in the right direction. However, the risk of building codes becoming excessively lax is real, I suspect. In the worst case they could be both too strict and too lax; that's the corporate ideal for regulation.

    •  I should point out that personal debt is imposed (0+ / 0-)

      upon many people in effect by insufficient wages. There is a basic level one needs to live which for some was not met, and there were many false promises of increased prosperity in the future for those who work hard which never materialized.

      Under the dogma of personal responsibility, some or all of these should be punished, and those who created the situations (the low-paying bosses, the irresponsible lenders working to commission, etc) should be let off scott-free (literally). That's because the dogma conceals and excuses a simple fear and hatred of the poor. If "personal responsibility" meant responsibility of persons, the latter group would be held accountable. They are not, because they are the ones who put forth the dogma in the first place.

  •  We have 30 tiny homes for the homeless in OLy wa (0+ / 0-)

    They have nothing to do with Occupy, so maybe that's why I don't see anyone talking about it on liberal sites.

    It was done by faith based groups. Maybe that's why?

    O great creator of being grant us one more hour to perform our art and perfect our lives. ::: Jim Morrison :::

    by Kevanlove on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 11:52:40 AM PST

  •  What a truly wonderful idea. (0+ / 0-)

    "Three things cannot be long hidden: The Sun, The Moon, and The Truth." Buddha

    by Grandson named me Papa on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:26:04 PM PST

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