Gregory’s Homeless Homes Project

by Christina Nellemann on February 17th, 2014. 50 Comments

Many readers of the Tiny House Blog might know Gregory Kloehn best from his Dumpster home that was featured on Inside Edition and the Rachel Ray Show. Gregory now has a new project in the works. The Homeless Homes Project, which features tiny structures built out of illegally dumped garbage and industrial waste are becoming more than an environmental stance or garbage art. These little homes are fast becoming a collaborative project between different groups who want to help shelter people who live on the streets.


With names like R2D2, Romanian Farm House, Uni-bomber Shack and The Chuck Wagon, these structures are built from pallets, bed frames, futon frames, doors, plywood, OSB, paint, packing crates, car consoles, auto glass, refrigerator shelves and anything else Gregory can find in local dumping areas around his home in Oakland. He looks for anything that has real wood, tempered glass and sturdy frames, and only purchases nails, screws, glue, paint brushes and saw blades. When a home is completed, he pushes it into the street, take a few photos and then gives it away.


“From that point on, I have no more say in it,” Gregory said. “The homes take on a life of their own. One was stolen, one was sold, one was firebombed, one is in a neighbor’s backyard with dogs living in it, the rest are still on the streets with people living in them.”

Gregory’s initial concept of these homes was not to house the homeless but came about because of some research he was conducting on homeless architecture and the various structures built by people who live on the street. He was inspired by their resourcefulness to take found objects and create homes and a livelihood from them.

“I was inspired to take these same materials back to my shop and put them together in a more permanent fashion,” Gregory said. “After about a week of collecting and building, I had a 21st century hunter/gather home, built from the discarded fruits of the urban jungle.”


“This sat at my studio for a number of months, just collecting dust,” he continued. “One rainy night, Charlene, a homeless woman I’ve known for some 10 years, asked if I had a tarp for her.  I told her I didn’t have one and I went back inside. As I walked past the home, it hit me, I should give her this. I ran back out and told her to come back tomorrow and I would have a home for her.  She and her husband Oscar came back the next day. I handed them a set of keys and a bottle of champagne and watched them push it down the street. It felt so good that I started making another one that same day.”



Gregory’s now working on the projects with several community groups and people who come to his shop to help. The plan is to move into a larger space that can accommodate workshops and larger builds. He said his Dumpster home project taught him many lessons that he’s applying to the Homeless Homes including sticking to his original vision.

“Regardless of what others say, or what you may even say to yourself about an idea, if you think it has merit and you want to do it, you should just do it,” he said. “Don’t let petty details derail your desires, you can deal with those later, what’s important is the essence of your ideas.”

Gregory’s interest in tiny homes came from building a lot of different homes and condos over the years and realizing that the smaller projects actually made him happier.

“There is a spontaneity and playfulness in making small homes that traditional houses do not offer,” Gregory said. “It reminds me of making forts as a kid, no city planners, no architects, no crews, no bank loans, just my ideas and my hands.”


Photos by Gregory Kloehn

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Straatlokaal Dumpster Structures

by Christina Nellemann on July 29th, 2013. 15 Comments

Rikkert Paauw and Jet van Zwieten of FOUNDation Projects in Utrecht, Holland  have been making recent news for their ability to turn the ordinary dumpster into a unique space – with items actually recovered from dumpsters. Their current designs are being used as meeting spaces and bars, but with a little imagination could be turned into tiny houses.


The artists put several of the large trash bins in the local neighborhood, and filled them up with trash and materials collected from around the town and donated by locals. They then used those materials to create the structures. The project, called Straatlokaal, has been used to promote responsible waste removal, recycling and object re-use. The building of each project took about a week and the Dumpsters were set up as alternative bars and places for creative entrepreneurs in the heart of Ultrecht’s Neude Center Square. Because the dumpsters have wheels, they can be moved around the city.

These Dutch “recyclitects” also build furniture, lamps and custom items from reclaimed materials like wood pallets and cast off metal. They have a few videos on Vimeo showing the Straatlokaal building and creative process.





Photos by Stortplaats van Dromen

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Thrive with Less

by Christina Nellemann on July 8th, 2013. 8 Comments

Can you not only live, but thrive, with less? A group of six college students from Michigan decided to take some time out of what they felt were lives of excess to live more minimally. They filmed the lifestyle experiment last year and made it into a documentary called Thrive With Less. In their journey, they were introduced to Jay Shafer and his tiny houses while attempting to live within only 25 square feet of their own homes.


Their raw footage videos and vlogs cover not only tiny houses, but decluttering, reducing social media, Dumpster diving, commuting by bicycle, and living more simply. Several of their self-imposed challenges included holding community dinners with items only found in their pantries, volunteering at various charitable organizations, wearing only four shirts and one pair of pants for the whole month, not driving within a 2-mile radius of their homes, and taking time to pursue their passions.

With the challenges, the documentary crew each hoped to get out of their comfort zones and live a more fulfilled life.



Photos and video by Thrive With Less

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Tiny House Fundraiser for Clean Water in Ethiopia and Nepal

by Kent Griswold on June 27th, 2013. 9 Comments

Vina Lustado contacted me yesterday about a fundraiser she is doing and wanted me to give you an opportunity to help support if you would like. Here is some more information from Vina.

I’m partnering with charity:water (an amazing non-profit organization) to help raise money to bring clean water to Ethiopia and Nepal. We have raised over $1100 so far to give 55 families clean water, and I have only two more days left on the campaign. To meet my goal, I am offering a free night stay in my handcrafted Tiny House, located in beautiful Ojai, California.

tiny house stay

Last year, I attended a WDS conference where I was exposed to the water crisis, and I was deeply inspired by the story of founder Scott Harrison. He had a vision to change the world, and I want to help.

Did you know that 800 million people still live without clean water? As a young girl who grew up in the Philippines, I understand how much we take for granted. Something basic and essential such as clean water should be available to everyone.

In the spirit of giving, I’m asking everyone to donate $47 for my 47th year. But any amount will make a big difference.

It’s important to me that we close the campaign with a bang, so I’m offering something different. For anyone who donates at least $100, you can receive a one night stay in my Tiny House. Donate $200 or over, and get a weekend stay. You’ll love the location in the the beautiful and magical Ojai Valley!

What’s really cool is that 100% of the money will directly fund water project costs in the field. That means we’ll see exactly where our money was spent.

Thank you for making a difference – it means the world to me!

Click on the links below to make a donation and learn more.

tiny house back side