Saturday, February 22, 2014

A permanent solution to homelessness and welfare

This is an artist's rendering of a small "park" full of tiny, very cheap dwelling units. The article it illustrates is headlined, Tiny Houses for the Homeless: An Affordable Solution Catches On. I've long believed that we need to put up "camps" like these outside of cities, but with bus service several times a day into the city for residents who work or are seeking work -- or are going to school. My thought is that anyone gets to live here as long as they don't impinge on other residents.

By "impinge" I mean loud parties or fights, leaving junk outdoors, children running wild -- the typical things that make a neighborhood crappy. If somebody wants to drink or get stoned quietly, it's fine with me. People who can't live by the rules? Bye-bye.

Now let's talk about food. Nourishing meals aren't expensive if you make them from scratch. So why not have free food for residents? They can participate in a communal kitchen or cook on their own. I'm fine with either one.

Cleanup and maintenance? I've never understood why housing projects aren't the cleanest, neatest, and best-maintained places on the planet. The people who live in them aren't working -- or aren't working much -- right? So why can't each one kick in 10 or 12 hours a week to keep the place up? Got kids? Simple: taking care of kids can be a community task, same as painting trash containers. One women looks after four other women's kids while they work. Ditto if some of the residents get outside jobs, which we fervently hope they will.

We can also have job training, starting with construction and building maintenance. That goes along with the "you live here, you help keep the place up" ethos.

This sort of place should cost very little to maintain. 16'X20' dwellings don't cost much to heat or cool. A little cleverness can go a long way in reducing other utility costs, too. Construction and maintenance supplies go way down in price if you buy in bulk. And labor? The residents supply most of that, except for a director and a couple of trainers. And who knows? Maybe they can live on the property too, possibly in larger units.

There is no luxury here. And many residents will eventually get decent jobs and move away. Good! We're happy for them, and each person or family that "graduates" leaves a space for a new resident.

Would this work? Probably only if a church or two are behind the concept. Otherwise it could get bogged down in existing aid and child support bureaucracies, either forever for long enough that any donated or allocated funds would disappear.

Worth a try, anyway...


  1. In the real world probably not happening, but if you are an optimist and believe there are doers...perhaps they can make it happen.

  2. The issue, as you indicate, is bureaucracy.

  3. Tiny houses for the homeless: an affordable solution catches on Governments and nonprofits are working together on a practical solution to homelessness through the construction of tiny-house villages.