Bridging the Opportunity Divide

This City’s Homeless Are Building Their Own Houses

November 11, 2014
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This City’s Homeless Are Building Their Own Houses
Greensboro has plans to create tiny homes for some of its residents living in extreme poverty. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Instead of sleeping on the streets, 879 people will have humble new abodes.

The tiny home trend has been on the rise for those who want to live more modestly or sustainably, and now the movement is especially gaining traction for a very different group of people: the homeless.

That’s the aim for Tiny Houses Greensboro, Interactive Resource Center and other volunteer organizations in Greensboro, N.C., who are currently raising funds to build a 128 square-foot prototype home that includes a bedroom, a fully functioning bathroom and a kitchen in order to end homelessness in the area.

According to their IndieGogo campaign, once the first home is successfully constructed, the team plans to eventually build an entire tiny home village for 879 homeless residents that are currently living in tent communities and homeless shelters.

Most notably, these small spaces won’t just be built by the volunteers, but also by the people who will be living in them one day. The Huffington Post notes, the organizers held a “How to Build a Tiny House” workshop to teach homeless residents and community members how to erect framing for the prototype home.

MORE: Small Spaces, Big Ideas: 7 Tiny Homes With the Power to Transform How We Live

“The process of helping to create and build a home of your own provides people experiencing homelessness with greater dignity, self-respect, and the discipline to improve their lives substantially and more holistically,” Tiny Houses Greensboro says on their campaign.

“The person experiencing homelessness has got to put a lot of sweat equity into the house,” a member of the organization tells Fox 29 News. “You know, sometimes it takes a village. Well, there’s also a saying that says, ‘If it takes a village, build one.'”

We previously reported that tiny home projects for the homeless have popped up in Portland, Ore.; Madison, Wis.; Austin, Texas; and Newfield, N.Y.

The idea of “housing first” has been championed by anti-homelessness advocates. The idea is that housing the homeless can cost significantly less than leaving them on the streets. Per the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “homelessness causes illnesses and makes existing mental and physical illnesses worse, leading to expensive treatment and medical services. Permanent supportive housing improves physical and mental health, which reduces the need for these services, particularly expensive inpatient mental health care and hospitalization.”

It’s amazing how a tiny house can mean something so much bigger.

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DON’T MISS: Does It Take a (Tiny) Village to End Homelessness in America? 

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