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Tiny homes

Typical HuffPo clickbait headline:

This Genius Project Would Create Tiny Homes For People Making Less Than $15,000 A Year
Another American city is embracing the idea of small homes that'll make a big difference.

The city of Portland, Oregon, is nearing approval of construction for tiny home communities on public land in order to house homeless and low-income residents, the Oregonian reported. Josh Alpert, the city's director of strategic initiatives under Mayor Charlie Hales, said it's not so much a question of if, but rather, when the homes will be built in partnership with Multnomah County, according to the news source. The city will ask various public branches in the area -- including Portland Public Schools -- to provide surplus land for the homes.

Looks perfect to me:

and such an improvement over a shipping container or a trailer in the woods!

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V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...have some more detail, no?
I'm so tired of shallow; I get that from yahoo all the time...

Don't believe them, don't fear them, don't ask anything of them.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.
Frederick Douglass

BruceMcF's picture
Submitted by BruceMcF on

Their plan calls for 25 housing units on a given property, with additional buildings for laundry, administrative offices and others services. The buildings would be roughly 16 feet by 12 feet, or 192 square feet total, and cost $250 to $350 per month to rent.

The prototype is engineered by TECHDWELL, a Sherwood-based company.

Mike Withey, a Portland housing advocate and executive director of the nonprofit Micro Community Concepts, teamed with the TECHDWELL founders to push the idea.

Tiny houses for homeless people? Portland Mayor Charlie Hales is 'infatuated' with the idea, advisor says

Several additional pieces linked to in the sidebar of that story.

All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

I don't get the point here. I think it's cheaper to construct a multi-unit building than the same number of free-standing units. And then house and yard maintenance are high capital intensive -- where will the dweller store tools, lawn mower, and the like? I'll be interested in the project, but it comes across initially to me like a way to keep harping on "the American dream" of single family home ownership even as the resources for it diminish, rather than figuring out what we need to do to have decent communities.

BruceMcF's picture
Submitted by BruceMcF on

It seems like home maintenance would be community property ... and of course, low home maintenance is one reason the hipsters like tiny houses. More time to jump on the fixie cruiser and head down to the coffee shop to listen to slam poetry.

How well hipster houses translate into small villages of tiny houses for communities of homeless people as an upgrade to the tent city they presently maintain is an open question, but it seems like the tent city is probably more work overall.

All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

the future of America, designer shanty towns. Instead of looking for ways to cope with poverty we should be seeking to end it. 12 point platform now!

BruceMcF's picture
Submitted by BruceMcF on

Is it "instead of"?

Given that we haven't been successful in getting the 12point platform enacted ... should cities and towns work to help people cope more successfully with the effects of poverty-creating policies, if doing that is within their power?

All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

Submitted by lambert on

... a tiny house that's easy to maintain and presumably energy efficient would be preferable to a humongous house that is so inefficient I might as well live in a tiny house when you look at the net.

I also like the idea that they're giving them to homeless people.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

Problem is normalizing the concept of doll house sized dwellings for human beings. The "micro apartment" trend much embraced by Neo Lib PointOh One Percenters who would like all of us to subsist on dish water and cat food is, in my view, scary as all get out. In New York, one building went up (with major public money subsidies for the "private" developer) where the spaces were shoeboxes with no storage space. Some had "shared" kitchens and bathrooms. (Though the architect's renderings cutely had umbrella baskets just inside the door - how chic!)

Bloomberg told the press (for all to hear) that he thought these would be great for old people. It's one of these New World Order ideas that Gates Foundation loves too - just shove all the poors (millions of ex-middle classers) into sardine boxes where they can't have any belongings to speak of, etc. Creepy.

That said, free clean dwellings with running water and electricity and heat for the homeless -- e.g., these "micro houses" - is a bazillion times better than the auschwitz-shelter systems now in existence. But I agree with N.O. that its puzzling to see the concept deployed as a doll house version of the Homeownership America refrain at this particular time juncture where multi-dwellings would be the way to go if we care about stuff like intelligently using resources, etc.

Submitted by lambert on

From the pure living space perspective, I can see multi-units being far worse than single units. If they were designed so every dwelling had privacy, like Zove's House in Ursula LeGuin's City of Illusion, then fine. Or according to Christopher Alexander's principles, fine. I've lived in dorms before, that's no problem.

But somehow I don't think the people who would design this housing would have the best interests of the people who lived there at the top of their lists.

This was not a public policy post, I admit. I live in a unit that's the size of a tiny house already; given the price of fuel, the rest of the house is essentially a giant machine for moving money in a circle without accumulating any or supporting other family members. If there was a safe way for me to be shut of it and retain the gardening space, I would be happy.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

mellon's picture
Submitted by mellon on

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cage_home

Even though they appear to be cheap, consider how one normal apartment will end up being be partitioned into dozens of these "cage homes". So, for all I know, they could end up being fairly expensive considering the rent charged for unit of space. Because there are typically two or three vertically in the same vertical bit of floor space. Kind of like a bunk bed.

See also..pod hotel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsule_hotel

You might also want to check out Container City, about (nice, well insulated/warm, modern) recycled shipping container homes, and a site called "The Worst Room" about shared housing in NYC.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

beyond appalling.

Thanks, mellon.

Even more concerning, since we're apparently already beginning to allow our own housing standards to drop so drastically.

"Slippery slope?"

(I hope not.)

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

Publicly supported housing (and I include tax breaks for McMansions) should be guided by the public purpose of building good communities and should support the life style that the residents want. I think it's ratcheting downwards to say that these houses are attractive (and man, that is nice landscaping with lots of space around the shiny new unit), and multi-units would be badly built. Let's think about what the intended residents want and need, and insist on design from there.

Here's the best idea I've seen to address homelessness.

Submitted by lambert on

We could:

a) Take abandoned foreclosed "bank-owned" homes by eminent domain and "give them away," but many if not all of those houses are badly built and in the wrong places; reinforcing sprawl.

b) Build new tiny houses in complexes... on what property. (Local government is all about land use; and it occurs to me that one nice thing about tiny houses is that they could fit in the interstices of other properties;

c) Build new multi-housing complexes. Nice if it's Co-op city in NY (which IIRC they are attempting to privatize); not so nice if they're Le Corbusier-inspired Pruitt Igoes or Soviet-style apartment blocks. I've seen some of those, and the ceiling height seemed to have been set so people had to walk a little bent over. Submissive posture was part of the design...

Probably this is all just as complicated as the transport stuff that Bruce does; and interacts with it as well. I'm perfectly happy with Maine two-footers and neighborhoods of tiny homes, but that might not be for everybody.

* * *

On the issue of grinding the middle class down, I see the point, and I'm as aware of the Gini co-efficient as anyone, but it also seems clear to me that the "middle-class lifestyle" as we have known it post-World War II really is not sustainable, even if we reined in the CEOs and stopped the looting. I don't identify my happiness with the size of anything, and that includes the square footage of my house. In fact, by many health and psychological measures, that experiment did not work out well.

Adding, that's one reason I'm so strong on the minimum wage and jobs and income guarantee; I want to set a baseline under the grinding, which will continue until it is stopped.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

I guess I had another failure at communicating. By "Let's think about what the intended residents want and need, and insist on design from there. " I didn't mean to be advocating Soviet style apartment blocks, because I don't know anyone who wants or needs anything like that. Multi-unit can also mean condo type units ranging from duplexes on up to things far short of massive apartment blocks. And then there are houses in places where you want to keep houses that are available. And if they're in disrepair, repair is possible.

What I'm hearing here is "Tiny homes can be good, so let's not worry about what could go wrong. Other options can be bad, so let's not think about them." So, some more potential problems with tiny houses:

Tiny houses in complexes -- creates a very homogeneous neighborhood. Not a public problem if they're hipsters. Very much a public problem if you concentrate persons whose lives are dysfunctional. This is not meant to be a judgment, but homelessness tends to be wrapped up with other dysfunctions. Housing that's more integrated into a functioning neighborhood is lots better for the residents. I think tiny houses would be problematic for families.

Lifestyle issues -- I've already mentioned storage. I'm guessing that you don't keep your tools and gardening supplies in your small living area. Storage is a major issue for the poor, who tend not to throw things away because if they ever need them again they probably won't have the money to buy new. What would be the policy on tacked-on storage lean-tos or permanent tents beside the houses? And even on things that you want -- where would you keep a bicycle? Is there enough storage for clothing that you would not to have to hit up the laundromat every few days? Could your parent or child come spend the weekend with you? Could you have a party? In case of an injury, is the unit ADA compliant so that you can get around?

Location -- the proposal is to put the units on public land. Would the land then be privatized? Would this be limited to land that's served by utilities and outside hazardous areas (floodplain, old filling station or dry cleaning sites, near busy highway)? Somehow, even in the short description linked to, I doubt it.

BruceMcF's picture
Submitted by BruceMcF on

One thing to note with this particular proposal is that its not restricted to the homeless, but low income residents in general ... and for low income residents, a rental of $250/month to $350/month means that it can be affordable housing as opposed to subsidized housing.

In typical apartment construction, 25 studio apartments would cost approximately $120,000 per unit, at a total cost of $3 million, and each unit would rent for approximately $800 per month.

Our goal is to house the same amount of people for $675,000 and rent for an average of $300 per month. We can house nearly five times the number of people using this Micro Community Concept model, and while doing so, we would use the proceeds to build more micro communities.

As with the Utah policy, for the homeless in particular an investment in social support services is necessary, but still can represent a net saving over the cost of "dealing with" homelessness.

As far as what the homeless want, part of policy development among many NGO's helping people who are homeless involves asking homeless people what they want. It doesn't seem unlikely to me that a space of their own, in a well insulated tiny house with a rent that is limited to $250-$350 per month on a cost of construction basis would perform well, especially if the other alternative is a studio apartment in an apartment building where the rent would rise to $800/month on a cost of construction basis if the rental subsidy is removed.

All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

Submitted by lambert on

As I do the 12-point platform stuff, I'd better be pretty careful on the social engineering stuff, and put my feet in both of possible shoes: The public policy shoe, and the "where people are" shoe.

Where I am is in a humongous house that once more than paid for itself (i.e., also funded a family member) and now due to various factors, including the price of fuel, a lousy winter, and decisions my town government is making about rental housing, no longer does that. I'm trapped in a huge house that I might nonetheless lose. I, personally, right now, would love a tiny house. I bet a lot of people all over New England in my age bracket think the same way. I could unload this white elephant, get one, and stick it on a tiny plot of land. Some people do the same with trailers. Of course, a good winter would clear the gloom and doom.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

My only previous exposure to the concept of tiny homes was in two contexts: one of its being a good way for young people to own their own house in desirable areas. On a one-on-one basis, I don't see any problem with someone choosing to build a tiny home. The second was to allow homeowners to put tiny units in their yards to rent, where the neighborhood is zoned for single family.

I have serious reservations about undertaking large scale projects of putting many separate micro-units on a single piece of land as a way of making them cheaper to rent. I've mentioned some of the reasons, and there are more. I haven't seen the low-income preferring less desirable housing that they can rent without subsidy to more desirable housing that they can rent with subsidy; it's the same rent to them and the housing is better.

As always, the basic problem is income. Raising incomes solves an awful lot of problems.

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

"It's always about income."

I think this formulation is a trap related to the myth that "inflation happens" - here, specifically, inflation of property values, rent.

To me the propblem has alwaysbeen about monopoly-induced price inflation. In order for desirable housing in desirable areas to be affordable to the "low income" or middle class working people increasing income would simply result in property owners (increasingly not single persons with one or two rental properties, but giant corporations/equity funds/hedge funds) jacking up prices. It's a xeno's paradox game of catchup - the "buyers" in this market (purchasers or renters) can never keep up. It's a feature not a bug - this is how for the last 70 years America has been induced to buy homes: TAKE ON DEBT (again, from FIRE - how circular!). For a few decades, pay for work was sufficient to create an expectation that a 30 year mortgage would be paid off by retirement. (Which is awful in itself - 30 year mortgages were created specifically because it was impossible to keep real estate inflated and inflating (chief aim of property owners) and at the same time for workers to be able to pay cash for their homes. Then in the last 20 years even that form of controlled extraction went off the deep end and resulted in mortgages designed to blow people up and destroy homeownership, all the while, of course creating great asset appreciation and rent streams for ... the FIRE sector.

So shorter: the only solution for housing (in terms of financial access of the "need a home" people) is to go full fledged Henry George. Criminalize real estate speculation, limit ownership of properties drastically to one or max two per person (including corporate persons), and control rents (retroactively decreasing them). Yep, so a bunch of counterparties and gluttonous lazy kleptos who make squillions just playing the property chess games (which involve no chance or intelligence, but just the willing participation of banks, counterparties and our captured regulatory bodies).

To start this off -- on Day 1 -- every market will be adjusted so that the lowest half of that market's earnings/wealth doesn't have to pay more than one third of their net earnings on whatever it is: mortgage, rent, whatever.

Yeah, not an "easy lift." But neither are any of the planks on the 12 Plank Platform - if by "ease" or "difficulty" we're talking about the opposition of entrenched interests who profit from these proposals NOT being advanced and implemented.

BruceMcF's picture
Submitted by BruceMcF on

I haven't seen the low-income preferring less desirable housing that they can rent without subsidy to more desirable housing that they can rent with subsidy; it's the same rent to them and the housing is better.

Until the subsidy is cut. Notionally it would be nice if we didn't have strong support in national, state and local politics for screwing the poor, but we do, and subsidized housing is never safe from attack.

The difference in cost of construction of apartments and tiny houses does not necessarily mean that the apartments are twice as nice as the tiny houses. It does mean that the minority of communities in the country with a budget for subsidized housing could provide as much subsidized housing as they already do and also offer the choice of tiny house villages for those who prefer them, and offers the opportunity to communities without such a budget but with appropriate city or town owned land to offer lower rent choices than the current rental rates here in Portage County, Ohio of $500-$700.

All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

The original coops - the Amalgamated Houses - that started in 1927, were "garden apartments." Co-Op City was designed as a Corbusier Soviet-Style "Tower in the Park" project with buildings 24-33 stories high planted in wide swaths of empty space (non-garden "park" space).

The “garden apartments” of the original coops [the 1927Amalgamated Houses coops begun in 1927] had been continuous five-story “perimeter” buildings surrounding courtyard plantings. But the only way to build economically for a population this large [BECAUSE MARKETS and LOOTERS!] was to build vertically. Coop City opted for the configuration, derived from utopian proposals by the French architect Le Corbusier, known as “tower in park,” a radical rebalancing of structure and nature. 35 megaliths, from 24 to 33 stories high, have been positioned on 300 acres of former marshland along the Hutchinson River. The “towers” occupy only 20% of the landscaped “park.” But unfortunately, open ground isn’t easily visible outside the development, from where the slabs and boxes appear as densely grouped as an urban downtown. Worse, the buildings are monotonously alike, all high-shouldered rectangles without setbacks, clad in combinations of red brick and concrete, with only the stacks of balconies and perfunctory white band molding to suggest organization on the facades. Drivers on I-95 easily mistake Coop City for a gigantic version of the discredited public housing projects of the fifties.

It has been one urban/housing planning disaster after another at Coop City -- including shoddy construction, shifting landfill, poor financial planning, and depressing inhumane scale, etc.

Not sure Co-Op City should be a model for discussions of nice affordable housing. The old union and worker's coops that started in the 1920s in New York, including Sunnyside Gardens in Queens, were built around ideals of humane scale, the importance of air and light, and gardens. Later, because markets (including artificially propped up and ever-groaf'ing real estate costs), developers and the City glommed onto Corbusier's flighty futuristic nice-on-paper "Towers in the Park" models and implemented in shlubby forms, as an excuse to cheap out on design/construction/land.

Richard Plunz's book "Habiter New York" (originally published in French because, IIRC, banned in the US!) is a masterful history of affordable housing concepts and architecture -- tied to the class warfare political economics underlying same -- Richard Plunz's book The book is, in great part, a story of the tragic shift from "utopian" well built, attractive, and humane workers' housing to the abominations that became the vertical ghettos known as "projects" - whether middle class (Coop City) or the ones for the "poors" (i.e. Federal safety-net supported). A must read for anyone interested in thinking about these issues today.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

privileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

Yeah, this definitely sounds like a "solution" that the top Five Percent, or so, would come up with.

What will it be next? Great Dane size dog houses?

Instead, we need to insist that "the wealthy" start forking over their fair share of tax revenue, and then allocate the funds so that everyone--including "the poor"--are able to live in modest and clean housing, with ample (and I don't mean extravagant) living spaces.

I'm with NO:

" I haven't seen the low-income preferring less desirable housing that they can rent without subsidy to more desirable housing that they can rent with subsidy; it's the same rent to them and the housing is better."

I haven't either.

Oh, and one link that's already posted here, alludes to people making between $5,000 and $15,000 dollars "paying rents of between $250 and $350 per month.

If my math is correct, that would mean that on the lower end ($5,000), people considering the Tiny House project are "okay with" allowing people to have only $67 or $167 monthly left "to live on."

(Several people have mentioned that these houses units would replace "subsidized" housing--so I'm going on what they've said. I don't know, personally.)

What's wrong with this picture?

Seriously, for the poor, "overcrowding" is one of the worst stressors that they must deal with--especially when coupled with the inability to meet basic financial obligations.

[A Google search brings up several articles and White Papers regarding the adverse effects of "overcrowding" on children, and its detrimental effect on cognitive thinking, and the ability to perform well in school.]

Now, don't have a problem with "Tiny Homes" if someone actually "chooses" to live this way. As they say, "to each, their own."

(Hey, we love our camper, but we sure as heck can't imagine "calling it home." It is relatively small, about 38 feet. Bottom line, it is definitely not spacious enough for two people to live in, and maintain one's sanity.)

BTW, here's a link (Madison, WI) to an "even more efficient" tiny (98 sq ft) Tiny Home.

Finally, my question is, "How "tiny" will they go?"

Will the poor and disenfranchised be forced to live in quarters as small as jail cells, or small fenced dog kennels, if this trend keeps up?

And, last but not least, how will this trend affect overall "standards of living" when it comes to housing?

Maybe I'm wrong, but my "guess" is that the wealthy will still live in Mega-Mansions, while the working poor and Middle Class will be herded into what will amount to "crackerbox homes"--whether it's to buy, or to rent.

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

BruceMcF's picture
Submitted by BruceMcF on

"(Several people have mentioned that these houses units would replace "subsidized" housing"

I haven't seen anything saying that they would replace actually available subsidized housing. The choice would seem to be regarding actually housing people, in housing with a capitalized construction cost of $300/month, versus advocating for housing people in apartments with a capitalized construction cost of $800/month, without in the short term actually housing anybody.

All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

"One thing to note with this particular proposal is that its not restricted to the homeless, but low income residents in general ... and for low income residents, a rental of $250/month to $350/month means that it can be affordable housing as opposed to subsidized housing.

So, I took it that it might be a measure intended to cut out subsidized housing. Also NO voiced concerns about this possibility.

And, I also got that impression from the tone of the articles. I'm rather pushed, so I'm not going to copy and paste sections of the piece, but the article about the Portland project makes it quite clear that this project is a cost cutting measure. The language is very straightforward.

Just saw an article that mentions that "Tiny Homes" start as small as 60 square feet. Frankly, I can't imagine expecting anyone to live in these conditions.

IMO, it's simply a matter of "priorities."

(or "values," as our corporatist Dems love to frame their neoliberal policies)

I sincerely believe that the Portland (and Wisconsin) bureaucrats will find this policy to be shortsighted.

A mentally healthy individual could easily have difficulty learning to cope with living in such diminished quarters. But putting an individual who already has mental health issues could be a real recipe for disaster.

(A quick Google will yield articles and studies on the detrimental effects of "overcrowding," especially as relates to the cognitive functioning of children--but adults also can be very adversely affected.)

Time will tell . . .

Oh, BTW, this is unfolding exactly as planned. As theNew York Times Headline read on October 18, 1979 --

Volcker Asserts US Must Trim Living Standard

;-)

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

BruceMcF's picture
Submitted by BruceMcF on

... meaning its a different type of thing. "This is a quadrilateral since, as opposed to a rectangle, the corners do not meet at right angles" to take an example where there should be no risk of it being taken as a political opposition.

The presumption that its used to take away subsidized public housing and replace it with lower quality subsidized-in-kind affordable housing doesn't match my impression of the intention of those promoting the idea. My impression is that their idea is to use the design pattern of small footprint, high quality houses, along the lines of those already being built by people with the means to fund their construction, to expand the amount of affordable housing that can be offered by Portland.

I really doubt that they are promoting these "instead of" ... it seems more likely that in facing a problem of a dramatic shortfall in the supply of affordable housing, they are pushing for it "in addition to" anything else the city can be persuaded to do.

As far as: "And, I also got that impression from the tone of the articles. I'm rather pushed, so I'm not going to copy and paste sections of the piece, but the article about the Portland project makes it quite clear that this project is a cost cutting measure. The language is very straightforward."
Lower cost can either mean you provide the same number of spaces with a smaller budget or you can provide more spaces with the same budget. I don't see anything from the NGO advancing the approach which suggests they are pushing for the first.

"Just saw an article that mentions that "Tiny Homes" start as small as 60 square feet. Frankly, I can't imagine expecting anyone to live in these conditions."
The proposal here does not involve 60ft^2 Tiny Homes, so the fact that some people have chosen to build 60ft^2 Tiny Homes for themselves does not seem to be relevant for this proposal. Remember that the 60 square feet Tiny Homes that are being discussed are (1) by choice of the person who built that Tiny Home and (2) substantially smaller than is normal for Tiny Homes.

Its true that they are not tackling the underlying structure of the US economy which creates the problem in the first place, but refusing to expand the supply of affordable housing with an aim of using homelessness to put a spotlight on the structural flaws of the US economy seems to me to be both a cruel strategy as well as one that is likely to be ineffective.

All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

not mine (unless you're quoting someone here, and didn't use a blockquote).

Re: Design follows policy, doesn't substitute for it
BruceMcF's picture
Submitted by BruceMcF on Tue, 08/26/2014 - 4:58pm

(Your words) One thing to note with this particular proposal is that its not restricted to the homeless, but low income residents in general ... and for low income residents, a rental of $250/month to $350/month means that it can be affordable housing as opposed to subsidized housing.

and your quote from an article (I'm guessing),

In typical apartment construction, 25 studio apartments would cost approximately $120,000 per unit, at a total cost of $3 million, and each unit would rent for approximately $800 per month.

Our goal is to house the same amount of people for $675,000 and rent for an average of $300 per month. We can house nearly five times the number of people using this Micro Community Concept model, and while doing so, we would use the proceeds to build more micro communities.

(Your words again) As with the Utah policy, for the homeless in particular an investment in social support services is necessary, but still can represent a net saving over the cost of "dealing with" homelessness.

From my perspective (having spent over three decades counseling and advocating for the poor and disenfranchised)--I simply do not agree with the "priorities" of the Mayor of Portland, or any city, that finds "Tiny Homes" to be an acceptable solution to our homelessness crisis.

I understand that Portland may not be looking at the smaller units being used in Wisconsin yet.

However, once they go down this road (of Tiny Homes), what is to stop these obviously misguided bureaucrats (IMO) from "downsizing" when the next round of budget cuts are enacted?

Especially since we "know" that the 30-foot product is available, and is "there for the asking."

IMHO, the real problem, and what's lacking, is enough public pressure on these bureaucrats to do the right thing.

Without it, I suppose that it shouldn't be at all surprising that feckless politicians and bureaucrats would consider Tiny Homes to be a satisfactory solution.

"Maybe" if the "Tiny Homes" were offered as very temporary quarters (30 days or less) until the individuals could be transitioned into standard housing, I might could consider these homes to be appropriate on that very limited basis.

But one of the linked articles alludes to housing individuals in these units, while they receive drug/alcohol treatment, job training, etc.--so it appears that these units would be expected to house "the homeless" for months, if not for years.

Look, I certainly understand that individuals bring different perspectives to any issue, and I accept that. But my professional background being what it is, I simply can't endorse, or go along with this "solution."

But, enjoyed the conversation. If it provokes others to seriously consider these issues, it's worth it, even if we can't/don't reach a consensus.

And thanks to Lambert for posting this piece.

I'm hoping that by early next year I'll have time to really check out these homes--their use really does cause me concern.

Oh, it just struck me how much this issue ties into the Dem Party meme of "inequality."

BTW, ran across an article last week that mentioned that the Democrats present motto, "A Fair Shot," was a reject from PBO's 2012 Presidential campaign. It's from a line in a speech that he delivered in Kansas City.

Par for the course, eh?

;-)

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

[Avatar Photo Credit: Conflagrate, jurvetson's photostream, flickr]

BruceMcF's picture
Submitted by BruceMcF on

"Oh, and one link that's already posted here, alludes to people making between $5,000 and $15,000 dollars "paying rents of between $250 and $350 per month.

If my math is correct, that would mean that on the lower end ($5,000), people considering the Tiny House project are "okay with" allowing people to have only $67 or $167 monthly left "to live on.""

The $67 math is clearly off ... that assumes that someone with $5,000 is paying the top end of that rent that is stated to be on a sliding scale based on income ... but if its on a sliding scale based on income, someone with income at the bottom end would not be paying the rent at the top end.

But the main question there is ... given Federal and State policies which lead to a large number of people living on $5,000/yr to $15,000/yr, is it preferable to offer them the choice, or not? The con side is that people will conclude the problem is solved and stop supporting solutions that cost substantially more. The pro side is that since the contribution of the city is in kind rather than in cash, its both easier to get the city to say yes, with less pressure on the city to remove the subsidy the next time it is caught in a squeeze when Wall Street throws the national economy into the toilet.

All the world's a stage, the theater is on fire, and the lead actors are telling the audience that the smoke is a trick, they should stay seated an enjoy the show.

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

But the main question there is ... given Federal and State policies which lead to a large number of people living on $5,000/yr to $15,000/yr, is it preferable to offer them the choice, or not?

I'm fine with offering them the choice, presuming that both choices consist of safe, decent, and sanitary housing. I'm not fine with building the cheapest housing possible that may not be appropriate because we've decided that they would (morphing into "should") prefer what's most convenient for us.

My experience, incidentally, is that many low-income people want Section 8 (i.e., subsidized) housing because it costs them 30% of income. If their income drops because of illness or layoff, their rent drops accordingly, and may end up being zero in a bad year. Subsidies are revoked less often than rents rise and incomes fall. And the Section 8 properties should be inspected by the government annually for upkeep; this doesn't happen as rigorously as we would like, but the renters in subsidized housing have a complaint mechanism for landlord dereliction that isn't available in the non-subsidized market.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

and the income range was $5,000 to $15,000, IIRC.

I wasn't sure if the $250 versus $350 monthly rent difference had to do with the "amenities," or "models" of the Tiny Homes, or if it had to do with a "sliding scale" for the monthly rental amount.

But, even if we use a sliding scale for the rent, the lower rent of $250 is quite steep if one has only an annual income of $5000, or a monthly income of $417.

I don't recall seeing any mention of subsidies in the several articles that I read. (But maybe I overlooked it. If so, I apologize.)

If there are no subsidies, the "Tiny Home" project would be unacceptable for not only those living in "deep poverty" ($6,000 or less per annum), but for many of the people in the price range that the article references. (IMO)

I hope that this project is not just an attempt to basically sweep the problem--the "eyesore" that homeless encampments have become in many cities--under the rug.

IOW, "outta sight, outta mind."

One of the worst tragedies that came out of Hurricane Katrina was the health problems, or illnesses suffered by some of the "victims"--many related to the substandard housing that they were provided--not to mention the problems of "overcrowding."

Alexa

“If a dog won’t come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.” -- Woodrow Wilson

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