Tiny Houses, Big Hearts

Here’s something you probably already know: Tiny houses are no longer just for minimalists and millennials.

In fact, the tiny house movement continues to open doors for other segments of the population who are in dire need of a home, including the homeless, refugees and people overcoming addiction.

Photo Source: Wikipedia Commons

Tiny houses are still meant to be affordable and eco-friendly, but they also are serving many purposes for those who need a little extra help in life. Let’s take a look at some charitable tiny house causes:

Tiny Houses for Women in Recovery

The creation of a sober-living tiny house community in Texas has been making headlines over the last year — and for good reason. Tiny Houses Big Recovery is a new concept that’s designed to give women a transitional place to live after they are released from jail. The residential community consisting of 14 tiny houses gives formerly incarcerated women a safe place to live while focusing on their sobriety.

In many cases, freed women are turned onto the streets with no money, no place to live, and no job. “Should she also have a charge of violence or an open Child Protective Services case, our only county homeless shelter is also off limits,” writes Shannon White of Grace to Change. “She leaves with nothing in her pocket but a felony conviction.”

We can’t forget that addiction is a disease, not a character defect. Many people see drug and alcohol abuse as a moral defect without understanding that it is a disease.  White’s work with Grace to Change and Tiny Houses Big Recovery in Collin County, Texas is a reminder that a supportive community is needed for women seeking sobriety — and everyone deserves a roof over their head.

Tiny Houses for the Homeless

For some, addressing homelessness simply starts with giving people a place to live. As such. tiny house villages have been sprouting up across the country in recent years, offering people facing homelessness a chance to get back on their feet. Low-income micro-home communities exist in cities such as Dallas, Portland, Kansas City, and Syracuse.

The Syracuse, New York community is funded by nonprofit called A Tiny Home For Good. The nonprofit group acquires vacant city lots zoned for tiny houses and partners with local contractors, businesses and volunteers to build 300-square-foot homes. Tenants pay rent on a sliding scale based on monthly income. The group’s most recent focus has been on supporting U.S. veterans.

For a guy like Marvin Gregory, a U.S. Army and Coast Guard veteran, being able to move into a tiny house in Kansas City was a godsend after spending six years on the street. He was chosen to live in one of the 13 tiny houses built by the nonprofit organization Veterans Community Project. Their goal is to help vets secure housing and services in order to foster self-sufficiency.

Properly constructed transitional communities are designed sustainably, allowing these green buildings to house hundreds now and thousands of people over several decades. Eventually, many of these veterans will pick themselves up by their bootstraps, position themselves to move on, and eventually be able to buy their own homes someday.

Tiny Houses for Refugees

Europe may be ahead of the curve when it comes to helping refugees integrate into communities. France has somewhere around 220,000 refugees living there. To make them feel like a bigger part of society, instead of isolated in refugee housing, there are programs taking place to help people with housing.

“We are all familiar with the current refugee crisis,” writes Fernanda Marin for Ouishare. “Images of camps, temporary settlements and people living in the streets of big cities have become ordinary. We all know there is a problem,  that cities are incapable -or unwilling- to deal with it. But what if we could design a solution that not only offers refugees decent living conditions but helps us to connect and improve our relationship with them?”

A project called In My Backyard is one such solution where a homeowner agrees to host a refugee on their property in a tiny house for at least two years. After two years, the homeowner can agree to another two years, buy the house from the nonprofit, or allow it to be dismantled and rebuilt in someone else’s backyard. Each tiny house is about 215 square feet and large enough for two refugees. Refugees need to stay in the tiny house for at least six months before moving on.

With the help of social workers, refugees eventually find work and move into their own apartment. It’s also nice for them to also have support from the people’s whose yard they are staying in. It’s a worthy social cause, don’t you think?

At the very least it’s inspiring to see people helping other people by utilizing the tiny house movement for good. Tiny houses big hearts could be the new trend we’ve been looking for. It’s about more than just living simply in a small space. It’s also about making the world a better place to live.

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M Michael - August 15, 2018 Reply

Nice to see article focusing on the humanitarian possibilities for tiny houses. The concept could be at the forefront of solutions even in the area of complex problems such as addiction. The feelings of safety and stability offered by even a simple dwelling are the first steps required enabling people to take more control of their lives.

Avery Phillips - August 21, 2018 Reply

Thanks for reading, @M. Michael! Yes, the humanitarian possibilities are inspiring!

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