Colorado Yurt Company Donates Tents to Haiti

Colorado Yurt Company wanted to help with the relief effort in Haiti after the earthquake, but was stumped on where to begin and how to make it happen so their donation would not get lost in the shuffle and end up sitting somewhere for who knows how long.

Sam Kigar worked with a friend Chris to get 5 tents to some doctors in Haiti and you can read more about the design below the picture and read his blog post at the Colorado Yurt Company’s blog.

They decided on a simple design: six vertical poles, guy-ropes, and overall dimensions of roughly 7ft x 7ft x 7ft. All the poles would be of the same length– 3.5 ft– the verticals at the front and back would each be two 3.5′ poles, fitted together. The exterior was to be a light weight synthetic material that could be rolled up to expose screen walls. The whole thing would fit into a duffel bag.

By close of business on Monday, we had worked out the design and the first tent was done.

There is also still a great need for shelter. In the New York Times, Niurka Piñeiro, a spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration, said, “Tents, tents, tents. That’s the word we want to get out. We need tents.” Colorado Yurt Company has the capability to make a modest number of tents. We are currently setting up a partnership with a relief organization that can put our tents to immediate use. Stand by for information on how you can help.

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gmh - January 31, 2010 Reply

Three cheers for CYC! Wouldn’t it be cool if the readers of this blog would EACH sponsor a tent? I’m going to go to the website and check out my options…

Dawnena Mackey - January 31, 2010 Reply

What an amazing gift. I’m sure the tents will be put to great use. It seems that the yurts would be great housing for the climate of Haiti. I hope this is something that will be considered by urban planners that will be working in Haiti.

Speedmaster - January 31, 2010 Reply

Classy move!

Switcher - January 31, 2010 Reply

I think the larger Yurt in the background would be perfect for long term mass housing in Haiti.

Haiti sits on 3 fault lines, so the chances of more earth quakes is real.

At least in a Yurt If the canvas roof fell on a person they would have a better chance of surviving, rather than concrete roofs, & 2nd floors falling on them.

Also very portable…

Kam - January 31, 2010 Reply

Actually I think that the people featured on this blog have more to offer Haiti than just tents. The houses often featured are low cost but extremely well made aesthetically and structurally. I would be willing to donate money so that a Tiny House Blog team could go there and set up some houses. I think something along the lines of a sandbag house would be the best. Don’t underestimate your talents!

    Elizabeth Goertz - February 1, 2010 Reply

    I would love to go help, but you couldnt get a flight in now. Latter I would volonteer, but Haiti Has always been a dangerous place for aid workers, more so if you are white and female.

Michael O'Leary - January 31, 2010 Reply

I get that Haiti is suffering. I mean my gosh, there are 3.5 million people that are homeless as a result of the… Oh, wait – that’s the number of homeless in the U.S. My bad, I got confused because of all the attention on the crisis in Haiti.

Once again we get all spooled up as a country to help out another country while we (collective term) ignore the problems in our own backyard. Personally I can’t see giving even a dollar to the effort until we’ve made sure that we’ve adequately funded all the efforts here at home.

I don’t say this because the citizens here are more deserving, but because we have a responsibility to our fellow countrymen first. Its a shame we jump on the most “in vogue” humanitarian effort while ignoring other problems. Welcome the the US – home of the 21 day attention span.

    Dennis Scott - January 31, 2010 Reply

    Nonsense! And kudos to Colorado Yurt Company for offering your particular expertise. How much better off we all would be if everyone in the world shared their own gifts in the same way.

    The responsibility of those with the most to those who are most needy, wherever they are in the world, has nothing to do with national borders. If this were the case, then the people of Haiti would get no outside help as there is no place in the world that can claim to have “adequately” taken care of those “at home”. Such an excuse for denying help to those in Haiti is unconscionable. The scope of the crisis in Haiti is matched nowhere in the US.

    The needs of the homeless in this country are addressed by thousands and thousands of private and government sponsored programs with varying degrees of success and failure. No economic or social system has yet to produce a society that “adequately” addresses all of the needs of those “at home”. This is because all people have weaknesses, even those that are homeless, and we have yet to find a way to overcome our human limitations.

    Reminding us of the need in our own backyard is perfectly fair; belittling the effort to help those in even greater despair is dishonest. Those who disagree can take comfort in knowing that, despite all of the effort made on behalf of Haiti, it too will not be “adequate.”

      jon - February 1, 2010 Reply

      This was a “special” case, an earthquake! There was actually an International outpouring of donations for the US after Katrina, I’m sure they have homeless in their countries too. As for rebuilding Haiti, its the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, were getting closer to home at least!

    Julie Tol-Veeneman - January 9, 2014 Reply

    Fast forward to 2014. In 09 I visited some tent encampments in rural northern Michigan. Winters are too cold for most to weather in a tent. So the tents pop up about spring break, I was teaching a 4th/5th combo and came to know which students would be changing their ‘address’ during vacation. Although an off the grid abandoned building or mobile home, (by necessity not any choice)can be lived in comfortably all winter long with a wood stove.
    Tent cities are larger in warmer areas of the US country side. And by now you have to avoid media to NOT know they exist. I am an advocate of minimalist style small house living. It is, and always has been, the VAST majority of the worlds housing. American’s are so insulated from the reality of everywhere but where they live. Having lived on the Island of Hispanola I know from experience that Haiti and the Dominican Republic have some of the most beautiful small homes I have never seen in any of the current trend toward tiny houses. Coconut palm tree planks are so incredibly beautiful, and wonderfully able to withstand high winds. Termites avoid a house build of the right materials. And another small house style we could study in our sudden interest in reducing our house style choices are the beautiful traditional homes of the south-eastern states of Mexico. But we still have the mentality of and affinity for .. McMansions. And we think we are innovative in what we are designing for a smaller house foot print. The average American frets and ponders their ability to live in a smaller house. Mostly because we can not fit our stuff in a space that small. But the historic villages (read museum here) remind us that the U.S. has had a rich history of small and tiny house living. Here is a definition of convenient house in the bateys of the Domincan Republic. To not have to walk a mile for water, to have that water be plentiful and potable. To have a cement surfaced floor, notice in English I did not say poured cement floor. And to have enough wall space to have all residents off the floor at night. Personally I would add a mosquito net to that list, and a nice hard wood rocker. A rocket stove, two burner with a grill in a lean to kitchen and you could call me happy. I would of course take my turn cleaning the community pit pot and ask only that someone better at roasting coffee than I bring me some fresh grounds once a day. Hollerin at all the Peace Corp volunteers out there and know what I am talking about.

MJ - February 1, 2010 Reply

Well said, Dennis Scott!

alice - February 1, 2010 Reply

I’m not only impressed with what they’ve done but also the way they made sure the help would get where it was needed. One can only wonder where some of the donations will end up. Between outright opportunism and plain old chaotic ineptitude a lot of money and items always go missing in a disaster. Not this time! The simplicity and adaptability of the design shows good sense too.

Elizabeth Goertz - February 1, 2010 Reply

I would like to make a comment to Colorado yurts, but it wont take my URL. We have one of there yurts and harvest a lot of rain water from the roof with their canvas gutter system, I wanted to suggest that they add gutters to the tents to catch “clean” water from rain. would some one pass that along for me?

Elizabeth Goertz - February 1, 2010 Reply

I would like to agree with both sides of the above argument. Both have valid points to make, I live in West Virginia, where people also live in tin and tar paper shacks, some without clean water and indoor plumbing. Some of the kids only eat at school. But at least we have not destroyed our environment yet, they can hunt, garden and forage. One thing that strikes me about Haiti is that they can not do those things, because they have destroyed their environment. And no one wants to talk about over population.

    Kam - February 1, 2010 Reply

    Re: Overpopulation. Children in poor countries like these provide economic security especially with the the high infant mortality rate. So it’s not that people don’t want to talk about it it’s just that people understand the reasons behind it.

    Lucas - February 2, 2010 Reply

    Excellent point Elizabeth. Overpopulation is the word. As a community of people that value conserving precious resources and sustainability(at least I hope that’s why we’re here), we have a responsibility to look at the whole picture, which includes carrying capacity. Haiti has grossly exceeded its carrying capacity. Natural disasters like earthquakes are one of many tragic means of the rubber band snapping back. Human life is precious, that’s why we go help those in need. Unfortunately, that help may just encourage the return to business as normal once we’re gone. The social structures in place here in the US often accomplish the same reckless result. Help people out so they can dig themselves deeper.

Sam Kigar - February 1, 2010 Reply

Hi all,

I wanted to thank the tiny house community (and especially Kent) for linking to my post on our Haiti efforts. We’re in meetings today trying to figure out costs for the tents so you can make tax-deductible donations. I’ll let you all know.

There is a really interesting conversation happening here. In my humble view, Elizabeth sums it up pretty well. If problems abroad (and our efforts to help) cause us to hold up a mirror and look at local problems then that’s all for the good.

Elizabeth, I saw your comment. The rain gutter is a great idea. We’re also looking at ideas for built in patch kit. Direct questions and comments can be sent to

Thanks again and be well.

Sam (Colorado Yurt Company)

Kaycee - February 1, 2010 Reply


We are engineering students at Northwestern University and we are working on a Tiny House project. We call ourselves team Casita. We would greatly appreciate if you could take a moment to take this survey that would assist in our project.

Link if you are an owner of a tiny house:
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Link if you are unfamiliar with tiny houses:

Please look at this video
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Also note that you DO NOT have to answer all of the questions.
Answer as many as you want.

Thanks so much!!!
You are helping us more than you could know.


Elizabeth Goertz - February 4, 2010 Reply

The tiny house movement has a lot to offer Haiti and the world. Just the fact that those of you who are actively building and designing tiny houses are already working out the bugs and making things work is huge. But what we design for our selvs and what could work in places like Haiti are different. I started a conversation on “tiny free house” about what you could build with the waist products of shipping emergency supplies, like pallets and the long pieces of plastic wrap that they use to “tie” the supplies down with. Of caorce getting people on the ground there who know how to build it and who can show the locals how to compost their waist and terrace there land against erosion, capture and store water and how to cook some how with out using so much, or any char coal. The last one being the trickiest.

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