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  THE LOW INCOME & URBAN HOUSING BLOG  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tiny Homes Are Addressing Big Needs in Affordable Housing

Tiny Homes, but Affordable Housing

A tiny solution to a big problem is beginning to catch on across the country. The solution to finding homes for the homeless is being met in many areas by building villages of tiny houses. By tiny, we mean about 16 x 20 feet. It's affordable, it puts a roof over the head of the homeless, and the whole idea has caught the attention of government housing officials.

Each year in the U.S., there are about 3.5 million people who are homeless. Unfortunately, there is simply not enough housing available to take care of them. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, available housing for extremely low income citizens, whose annual income is at or below 30 percent of the median income, will provide less than 30 percent of needed housing.

The solution

Communities of tiny houses are popping up everywhere now. The units are small, and so is the cost to build them, thanks to volunteer workers. Second Wind Cottages, located outside Ithaca, New York, is a tiny-house village for the homeless. With the help of more than 125 volunteers, they were able to build six new 16-by-20-foot houses for $10,000 each, which is just a fraction of what it would normally cost to construct a large building with apartments.

The idea is catching on

Other villages of tiny houses have been created in Olympia, Washington; Austin, Texas; and Madison, Wisconsin. Each village is able to serve anywhere from 10 to 200 residents with new, safe, affordable housing. The idea is proving to be much more cost-effective than the current amount of taxpayer dollars it takes to provide shelter to the homeless through public care programs. Comments Lee Jones of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), "It's certainly something that we would encourage other communities to take a look at when it comes to creating solutions for housing the chronically homeless."
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