Blog entry

Being Comfortable: Homelessness Partially Solved?

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Just saying … in the last blog, we spoke about researching other cultures who struggle with helping people settle into housing in the Western manner even when they are uncomfortable living inside walls. One culture that share’s these struggles with some Native American cultures are the Wiradjuri and Dharawal people in Australia. “Housing varies between urban and rural native Australian people. The national, state and local governments have encouraged nomadic groups to settle in houses in the European manner. They have built houses for some groups that live in the desert regions of central and western Australia. Native people have adapted these structures to their own design. They use them for storage, but usually regard them as too small and too hot for eating, sleeping, or entertaining.” (Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures, 1999)

The learning from the Native experience is about respecting different cultures, and most importantly, allowing native people to adopt living structures per their own design. How can this occur in the U.S? Well, there is a growing interest in tiny houses. Tiny houses offer the opportunity for owners to create their own design for tiny houses, which can be dismantled, built on a foundation or moved like a trailer.

I found this solution on Tiny House Nation, a cable television show that showcases creative thinking that results in tiny house designs that are driven by the customers. Two very talented design thinkers help individuals or families build their dream tiny houses. Zack Giffin is the host and designer. During these television shows, Zach builds small spaces that provide openings to nature where the walls are no longer problems:

 In ‘Tiny House Nation,’ renovation experts and hosts, John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin, travel across America to show off ingenious small spaces and the inventive people who live in them, as well as help new families design and construct their own mini-dream home in a space no larger than 500 square feet. From a micro-apartment in New York City to a caboose car turned home in Montana to a micro-sized mobile home for road tripping – this is a series that celebrates the exploding movement of tiny homes. From pricey to budget friendly, ‘Tiny House Nation’ is not a typical design show, but one that proves size doesn’t always matter – it’s creativity that counts.” (Tiny House Nation, Facebook, 2017)

Even yet, during our research, we found “a growing number of towns and cities have found a practical solution to homelessness through the construction of tiny-house villages—and housing officials are taking notice.” (Charter for Compassion, 2017)

The following lists those tiny house villages that have been successful for people who are homeless:

  • Quixote Village, Olympia, WA

http://quixotevillage.com/history/

  • Second Wind Cottages Inc., Newfield, NY

http://www.secondwindcottages.org/

  • Dignity Village, Portland, OR

https://dignityvillage.org/

  • Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Austin, TX

http://mlf.org/

If people who are homeless are suffering and cannot be inside walls due to a mental illness or substance use disorder, organizations have used design thinking to find creative ways to provide housing alternatives. These creative solutions have respected the nature and culture of people who are homeless, and most importantly, have been innovative, modern, and … all about that hope!

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References

Business Insider. (2017). Tech News. Web. http://www.businessinsider.com/tiny-homes-give-homeless-people-a-place-to-live-2016-1/#each-of-the-22-units-will-measure-between-150-and-250-square-feet-heben-says-14

Charter for Compassion. (2017). Tiny Houses for the Homeless: An Affordable Solution Catches On. Web. https://charterforcompassion.org/problem-solving/tiny-houses-for-the-homeless-an-affordable-solution-catches-on

Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. (1999). Australian Aborigines. Web. http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences-and-law/anthropology-and-archaeology/people/aboriginal-australians

Tiny House Nation. (2017). Tiny House Nation, FYI. Web.  http://www.fyi.tv/shows/tiny-house-nation

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