Madison Tiny House Village for the Homeless

occupy-madison-tinyhouse

This last weekend the Occupy Madison organization made another step forward in integrating tiny houses and the homeless in an effort to keep people off the street. The Occupy Madison Inc. organization had a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday for the new Tiny House Village in Madison, WI which has seen a seven percent increase in the homeless population over the last four years.

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Occupy Madison, with help from numerous community groups, has built nine tiny houses, a day resource center, laundry facilities and a community gardening space in the village. The 96 square foot homes are made from reclaimed and recycled materials and include a bed, a toilet, propane heat and solar panels for electricity. Each building costs around $5,000 to build and the money was raised with private donations.

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“Rather than taking people form the streets and putting them in a building, we thought we could work together to create our own structures,” says Luca Clemente, with Occupy Madison for WKOW in Madison. “We don’t give houses to homeless people, we enable people to build their own houses to create their own futures.”

The village is located on county owned land leased for $1 a year to the nonprofit organization that developed it. The developers won approval from the city for their plan with the assistance of a local Unitarian-Universalist congregation. Donations for the current homes came from local business that included Friends of the State Street Family, The Bubbles program, (which provides free laundry services to the homeless), OM Build, Homeless Ministry at Bethel Lutheran Church, Madison Street Pulse (a cooperative homeless newspaper based in Madison WI).

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Photos courtesy of Occupy Madison and Revolution News

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

 

Gregory’s Homeless Homes Project

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.

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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.

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“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.”

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“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.”

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homeless-shelter-inside

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.”

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Photos by Gregory Kloehn

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Tiny Home Community for the Homeless

by Steven Kuchinsky

I am part of a team of people from Monmouth University building a program known as THRIVE (Towns for Healing and Rehabilitation in Interactive Village Ecologies.)

We are working to create an alternative for about 80 homeless people living in tents (Tent City, Lakewood). Unfortunately, they must soon leave and will only have a homeless shelter to go to for one year and then they are on their own with no facilities available.

tent city

We want to create a sustainable community where these people together can build micro-homes and learn to live in a holistic life style.

We want to partner with whatever appropriate, likeminded caring people/groups will support this endeavor, such as Habitat for Humanity, various school programs that initiate sustainable farming, Home Depot which teaches home maintenance, and finally proponents of tiny homes that would like to make a difference in the lives of these people.

What better way to empower homeless people than to give them the opportunity to build their own homes and build their own community!

To what extent would you like to be a part of this ranging from simple suggestions, sharing contacts, ongoing communication, educating, etc.?

Here is a website about Tent City, and here also is a slide show (video) that I created. As idyllic as it may look, it is very difficult in the winter and they will not be permitted to live in these tents much longer.
(The pile of wood chips shown in the slide show were placed there by the town to make it more difficult for people to donate food to the homeless people. The county has since enforced removal.)