How Tiny Home Communities Across the Country are Helping People Get Back on Their Feet
Despite existing for quite some time now, some Americans see tiny homes as a somewhat foreign concept. However, to residents of the many tiny home villages sprouting across the country, community life is the key to getting back on their feet and enjoying a life they never thought possible.
The Rise of Tiny House Communities
Over the past four decades, the size of the average American home has grown more than 1,000 square feet. This means each homeowner has roughly twice the living space of the average in the 1970s. The tiny house movement is rapidly attracting wishful homeowners frozen out of a market where an average home is about 2,600 square feet and costs nearly $300,000. On top of the rising costs of homes and a lot of potentially unused space, there are plenty of unexpected costs that come with ownership as well (especially as the home gets bigger).
However, the development of tiny house communities has already proven to be about more than saving money and reducing carbon footprints. Communities of these easy-transportable small structures, typically 100 to 400 square feet, are providing life changes for the homeless, single parents, seniors, and those just down on their luck.
Starting in Detroit
Residents of The Motor City who earn a minimum wage can own a home and become members of the tiny home movement. Thanks to a rent-to-own program created by Cass Community Social Services, those with a yearly income of just $10,000 might be able to purchase a newly built home.
- Rent is only $1 per square foot. After up to seven years of payments, the tenant becomes a mortgage-free homeowner.
- Houses are 250 to 400 square feet in size. They usually represent the first asset a resident can call his own and pass on to his children.
- Foundations and private donations fund the project. Professional builders construct the foundation, exterior, and utility hookups. The price tag: about $50,000 tops plus very inexpensive utilities.
Community life centers on residents getting on their feet. They must take classes in home maintenance and financial literacy. The Cass headquarters sits nearby and offers educational, mental health, and nutrition programs. Built on two vacant lots on Detroit’s northwest side, the community has brought hope and excitement to a blighted neighborhood.
Conquering Homelessness Across the US
A number of tiny house communities around the country have been formed to solve the problems of the homeless. For residents of Quixote Village in Olympia, WA, community living means safety and a path to both stability and an improved quality of life.
Funded by a grant and private contributions, Quixote Village provides tiny homes to locals who are experiencing homelessness. Although the simple 144-square-foot houses fulfill shelter needs, living in the community adds the peer support and mentoring residents need to get back on their feet.
Staff and residents work elbow-to-elbow. Residents have proven tough survivors successful in getting jobs and an education. They work with full community support in overcoming any physical or mental health issues. Living in a community where each resident has a lawn and an individual porch creates a pride of ownership that fosters hope for the future.
The victim of child neglect, 51-year-old Penny left home for good at age 10. While living on the streets in Austin, TX, she heard about Community First! Village from food truck volunteers. She now has a permanent home in the 27-acre tiny home community.
Community First! is more than buildings. Walking trails and a community garden encourage peace of mind. Residents have places for worship, fellowship, and study and a medical facility. Micro-business opportunities enable them to earn an income while they heal.
Though it began as a way to save on housing costs and simplify life, the tiny house movement has evolved into much more. Across the country, tiny home communities with the specific goal of helping the homeless and others needing a fresh start are forming. They provide far more than safe shelter. For so many, they offer crucial first steps on the path to a better life.
Kris Lindahl REALTOR® CRS CLHMS
2407 109th Ave NE Suite 110
Blaine, MN 55449
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