Inspired by the Tiny House movement, Dignity Village outside of Portland, Oregon is aiming to alleviate the homeless problems of the Pacific Northwest. Originally a tent city, they began building tiny homes to replace the tents in 2003.
Washington state, Oregon and California make up the entire West Coast. They also account for more than 25% of the homeless population in the United States, according to research by Oregonlive. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has found that at least 610,042 persons fall asleep every night across the country at bus stops, in shelters, in front of shops, abandoned buildings, public spaces, car parks, tent cities and other similar places.
Dignity Village offers tiny houses for the homeless at $200 a month for rent, and $25 a month for utilities. It costs $3,300 to make each tiny cottage. There are communal spaces to watch television, craft and meet one another. They survive on donations, odd jobs, and government assistance. While hard drugs and alcohol are not allowed on the premises, marijuana is allowed at Dignity Village.
Cities like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles are well known for large numbers of homeless people wandering aimlessly, digging through trash bins, pandering, begging for food and some even using drugs and alcohol in the open to cope with mental instability, anxiety or to ward off withdrawal. It’s become a part of daily visual life in many West Coast cities. A persistent virus that many leaders and activists can’t seem to ‘fix’ or get a hold of.
Advocates say this won’t end the chronic homeless problem but will offer some sense of structure and opportunity for an underserved community. A religious-oriented homeless group in Austin, Texas, Mobile Loaves & Fishes are challenging the tiny house concept. Community First! is a 27-acre housing development they want to build.
Featured photo credit: Franco Folini via flic.kr