Tiny Houses and the Homeless

Tiny Houses and the Homeless

by: Scott Bressler, AICP - AECOM & Libby Tart-Schoenfelder, AICP - City of Longmont

Here are a couple of statistics from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (or HUD): Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care. An estimated 12 million renter and homeowner households now pay more than 50 percent of their annual incomes for housing. A family with one full-time worker earning the minimum wage cannot afford the local fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States.

Public housing was established to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. HUD administers Federal aid to local housing agencies that manage housing for low-income residents at rents they can afford. Housing agencies use income limits developed by HUD. These lower income limits are set at 80% and very low income limits at 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which you choose to live. While these limits have helped many low income residents find housing, they do nothing to help those who are already homeless.

Tiny home villages are popping up all over the country. As of July 2017, lists tiny home villages in ten U.S. cities including Seattle and Olympia, WA; Portland, OR; Los Angeles, CA; Dallas and Austin, TX; Nashville, TN; Detroit, MI; and Syracuse and Ithaca, NY. These tiny home villages range between 5 and 50 units typically on donated land or private property. Some can be as small as 60 square feet with common restroom and shower facilities. Others are a larger and offer a bedroom, kitchen, and a bathroom in each unit. Rents vary between $35 in Portland to as high as $350 in Austin.

The website did not describe the tiny home village in Denver, which was not yet complete in June. The village is temporarily located on a parcel of land next to Black Shirt Brewing at 38th and Walnut. The initial Denver village will have eleven homes and shared restroom and shower facilities. The current project is intended to be a proof of concept, and if successful, project planners hope to have up to ten villages open by 2020. Each village is self-governed through a village council with management and assistance provided by an Advisory Council composed of selected individuals who have the professional and technical skills needed for the project to be successful. Additionally, The Beloved Community, a local church will function as a support committee and fiscal agent for the community.

For more information, please visit the following websites:


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