I was looking for information about when our tiny home community would come to fruition and I went WAAAAYYY down a rabbit hole of hopefulness. So I thought it would make a good Saturday afternoon post.
This amazing project gives temporary homes to veterans who are looking to get back on track. Sometimes, all it takes is a period of time for people to get back on their feet, these project attempts to do just that. These tiny homes are designed with the veteran in mind and the Tiny Home Tours team was happy to donate to the cause.
This opens this summer in my town:
We have an excellent food bank/homeless center and folks around here, including law enforcement, work hard to help the unhoused, not arrest them or do sweeps. This is project is an extension of that. I suspect if it’s successful it will be expanded for other housing needs.
Jennifer Seybold, executive director for Veterans Community Project (VCP) Longmont, said they are building 26 tiny homes for unhoused veterans on two acres of donated land. They hope to have it open sometime in June.
“It’s a transitional housing community. People can stay here for up to two years,” said Seybold.
Since 2020, Seybold said VCP has permanently housed 61 veterans in the northern Colorado area with an 85% success rate.
This one has the neighborhood excited to be involved and really could be a model for all:
They’ve now purchased a third property to develop. Here is more information on this village with links to all their services in Madison, WI: Occupy Madison Tiny House Villages.
There are a variety of community models – with houses costing as little as $1,200 to models around $15K – those usually include kitchens and bathrooms. The lower-priced housing usually includes a community center with bathroom facilities and some kitchen facilities.
There are hundreds of videos on all the different tiny home communities if you need an uplift and ideas maybe for your community. I know one of our more…let’s say conservative towns… went to visit another state to see these solutions and the mayor and council came back thinking it was a great idea. So this has the potential to cross the aisle with support.
Are there any in any of your communities and how is it working?
Otherwise, this can be an open thread!
I saw a few episodes of Tiny Homes on HGTV and I was surprised at how expensive some where. But some of that might have been the land. It’s been a while.
Mike in NC
Trump has proposed building concentration camps to house those pesky homeless people. How about when he finally goes to prison they take some of his properties via Eminent Domain and convert them to shelters?
Every little bit helps I guess. There is one of these tiny home communities not far from my house https://www.clarkcountytoday.com/news/vancouvers-second-safe-stay-community-ready-to-open/#:~:text=Safe%20Stay%20is%20a%20supportive,Blvd.%2C%20on%20city%20property.
But I’m skeptical. This is an incredibly inefficient way to build housing. In that same space you could put up a multi-story building that could house hundreds instead of what…20? And the conditions would be far superior to living in what is essentially a Home Depot prefab shed. Single family homes no matter how small are just an incredibly inefficient way to do construction.
Europeans would just laugh at this sort of pathetic attempt to build public housing. Maybe it is all we can expect in today’s current toxic climate. But it is just a drop in the bucket compared to the need, especially in large urban areas.
@Mike in NC: A contribution from the Unhinged to the Unhoused
Lots of NIMBYs may oppose a new construction that houses hundreds of homeless. Frankly, not unreasonably. I don’t know, but this sort of thing might be more politically possible in a lot of areas.
@Kent: So much wrong with everything you just said.
I can just imagine in my city, the chances a multi-level “apartment” project ever getting approved. It would not happen.
Did you watch any of the videos? They are trying to build community, not just warehouse them in some faceless building, which has many inherent problems.
In Denver, they are looking at converting old office spaces and hotels into transitional housing, but it’s neither an easy nor inexpensive process.
@Baud: It’s like you didn’t read anything I wrote. 😏😘’
These are not those kinds of tiny houses…..
This is Colorado. We’re the NIMBY capital of the US. If you tried to build a high-rise for the homeless population or just low-income section 8 applicants the residents would fight you to the death.
They probably flew under the radar just to build a couple dozen tiny homes.
There’s one of those communities just a few miles from my house in Austin. There are even a few 3D printed tiny homes there. I’ve visited the place a few times, and while the concept is admirable, I never got the feeling that this could be a real solution to homelessness.
Can anyone enlighten me as to how/why the term “unhoused” is preferable to “homeless”?
Okay, I’m going away and let you all wallow in your hopelessness. JFC
@TaMara: TaMara, is this part of the project for vets that Jason Kander is spearheading?
Or are there two very similar projects for vets that are totally unrelated? Jason Kander’s project has been very successful.
I didn’t say they were the same. Your post just reminded me of that show.
You marked this an open thread anyway.
@Baud: Which is why you got kisses instead of stabby knives. I know Baud ’24! will solve the problem. ❤️
Just a wild guess, but homeless often gets viewed as “bums” living on the street. Unhoused is probably intended to avoid that limitation.
@Kent: My understanding is that a sizable segment of the homeless population are vets, and for some reason, they resist big spaces, but seem to feel more comfortable in these tiny homes.
Wonder what the HOA is like?
@Kent: Efficiency isn’t the only consideration. Europeans love their public transportation too but Americans don’t. Sometimes you have to go with what will actually work.
Honestly, while it’s hard for me to put myself in that situation, I think I’d prefer a tiny house too.
ETA: Although I’d always choose the option where I had my own bathroom.
@Baud: I would like several, each in a place I’d like to live.
I’m guessing that there is more of a sense of ownership in a small home than one would have in a high rise complex. I know I would prefer the tiny home any day, but it’s hard to put into words the reason why.
ETA: I love seeing those young people involved in helping people.
@Kent: We’ve tried high density public housing, and in many cases these projects have just ended up as crime-ridden sinkholes of despair. As far as I know, this often happens in Europe as well. I suspect this will always be the case until we’re willing to commit to providing supportive services — rehab, job training, job placement, responsive community-sensitive policing, etc (not to mention adequate building maintenance!). But in this country it’s easier to get funding for more prisons.
There are too many reasons for homelessness for one solution to fit them all, but this should work for many of them, especially if the community includes resources for drug abuse, alcoholism, and mental illness. Allowing people long enough time in the housing to get on their feet is good news. But I am too cynical to think that this is not just one of multiple solutions that need to be found, and found for areas where the locals are not so welcoming.
One of our local churches offered their parking lot and community building to provide parking spots and toilet facilities for the homeless in our county. There was such an uproar they couldn’t get permission. The problem – next door to the parking lot was a vacant set of acreage that was being used by FFA, and parents didn’t want their kids exposed to whatever cooties the homeless living in cars and vans had.
I was gratified to see Christians acting like Christians, and really wonder about the FFA parents.
That’s kinda what I thought. But technically, the meanings are identical, but “unhoused” just sounds awkward and dumb. Also, the forces that create and exacerbate the issue (too many to list) don’t care- the NIMBYS who will fight tooth and nail against multi-family housing will fight either term just as hard.
@Josie: Something to be said for setting foot out the door and being outside, not in a hallway, and with nary a stairwell or elevator in sight. Hallways are for hotels and dorms.
Mind you, this may not necessarily be best scenario in Fairbanks or Duluth in January.
@Salty Sam: Yeah, trying to shift the narrative through coined language is forced and awkward, usually. See also: Latinx.
The problem with replacing a word like “homeless” with one like “unhoused” is that eventually the new word acquires the stigma that was attached to the old one. And then you have to start looking around for a new word, because it’s no longer acceptable to speak of the unhoused.
Fun fact: 90% of food banks in the US date from after 1981. Because Reagan and “welfare is bad,” y’know. And of course the massive increase in homelessness from slashing federal support and deinstitutionalizing mentally ill people (not inherently a bad thing) but not providing the support afterward that was promised (which definitely is.) Reagan’s policies also resulted in great numbers of families becoming homeless, whereas before that it was largely single men with substance abuse issues or mental illness.
The long-term solution to homelessness, like so many problems, is to kick conservatives out of power. Until then, we make do with less optimal solutions.
@Baud: I read an article recently about a hotel that had been converted to housing, but it was an older property, and a lot of the people who were eligible were unwilling to live there because they wouldn’t have their own kitchen / bath. I think a lot of them (not just veterans) feel chronically unsafe and need to be able to hole up.
@WaterGirl: Just binged The Diplomat thanks to your comment in another thread, and now I hate them for how they ended the season.
@Baud: I can’t speak for TaMara, but I think sometimes BJ peeps don’t realize how much thought or time or effort goes into some posts. We’re all busy, and most of us are probably tired about half the time, so it can feel like a kick in the teeth if a bunch of the comments are negative right off the bat.
Last time that happened to me I think there were 2 snippy comments out of the first 11, and I closed the laptop, said fuck it, and probably didn’t put up a post for 4 or 5 days.
It’s a blog, and I doubt that any of us expect you to take our feelings into account, but sometimes it can feel like a kick in the teeth. Front-pagers are people, too. :-)
here, most of the “unhoused” would really, really like a home, but can’t for various reasons, (mostly low wages or gentrification), can’t afford one. Here the rent on lowest priced apartment will consume 90% of a 40 hour minimum wage job, when you can find one.
Studies here have shown that getting even basic housing for 6 months, results in a better job and the ability for find/affort better housing.
@Salty Sam: Because just because you don’t have a permanent address doesn’t mean you don’t have a place that you care about and things that matter to you. Unhoused folks very often have only the things that are most precious to them with them, or are deeply attached to the community they associate with and calling them “homeless” pretends like those ties to things and people don’t exist.
ETA: also, pretending that unhoused folks don’t have ties makes justifying sweeps, where they are detached from their community and (often) lose their prized possessions, easier and less guilt-ridden for public officials.
@Salty Sam: If I had to guess, I’d guess that “home” can exist without a house. People living on the street develop a sense of home through friends, pets, etc. So “homeless” dehumanizes them.
Just guessing. But “unhoused” is not felicitous.
Tamara, I’ve sent this post to my husband, who is deeply interested.
TaMara: Thanks for the post. It’s an important topic.
On a personal level, that place in Madison is maybe 700-800 feet from my 1st house. Cool to see what’s happening in the old neighborhood.
@Josie: Jason Kander does a great job talking about why the small, individual homes can be so helpful to vets, and in particular to vets with PTSD.
If I were a vet with PTSD, I certainly wouldn’t want the hustle and bustle of a high-rise and a bunch of people and a bunch of noise around me.
In the little houses, it’s your space. You can control it. Simple but independent. I think it’s a brilliant idea.
Not always. The push for terms like “people with disabilities” instead of “the disabled” or “enslaved people” instead of “slaves” is to highlight that these are people afflicted with a condition, rather than the condition being their identity. I suspect the actual term that advocates are trying to introduce is “unhoused people” rather than “the unhoused,” and that just got dropped (which does make the change pretty meaningless.)
And as for whether it’s awkward, new terms are nearly always awkward until we get used to them, so I don’t see that by itself as an argument against them.
@Kent: You’re not talking to the people on the ground, clearly.
One of the issues that the tiny house communities address is mental health issues that would prevent residents from living in a shared building. It is MUCH safer for everyone if a veteran with PTSD can shut a door and feel unthreatened because he’s alone in the building.
It’s not as useful for many folks suffering from addiction (see Boston’s Mass&Cass), and our old solution of warehousing them on an island in the Harbor went away when the Long Island causeway self-destructed. But unless someone wants to donate boats and rebuild the facilities, we’re kinda scrod.
@Maxim: I just started episode 4, but I have already been thinking that when I get to the end of that episode, I am halfway through the season. :-) I don’t really want it to end.
I know it ends with a cliffhanger, but I hope I don’t HATE the ending. I don’t think I will watch the final episode until I know whether that will be a season 2. The show is that good.
@Kent: People are less likely to bitch about a tiny home village than a multistory, because the village won’t block their oh so precious view. Also, a multistory building must be constructed by a developer who will not make any money off of it, while a tiny home village can be constructed by volunteers and the future residents themselves. The tiny home village also offers the added efficiency of communal kitchen spaces rather than having to outfit every unit with its own kitchen.
It’s a shame; there are so many brick and mortar places that are closed that would be perfect for some sort of retrofit to housing. All of the basics are in place. Instead, they are being bulldozed (because the homeless are using the location unofficially, starting fires, etc), to be replaced with fuck if I know. Empty lots? Nobody will build Malls anymore.
If you feel the need to go down another rabbit hole, this one was kinda fun:
Dorothy A. Winsor
Another author with my publisher lives in a tiny home. She seems to feel a real sense of community with the other tiny home residents.
I don’t get the fascination for tiny homes. Its a good stop-gap like this example but as someone who grew up in a metropolis where space is at a premium, I truly don’t see the attraction. YMMV.
here, in BC it has become common practice over the past 5 years to open every press release, speech, broadcast, etc (public, private, Government) with an acknowledgement that it is “from the unceded land of insert Local First Nations here”.
Where it is weird, is when this does not happen, and the public response is to ratio them over it.
@Baud: Must have a bathroom. Required.
Architect here. 100% support this movement and ANY progress in this area. Thank you for highlighting this topic, TaMara!
OT: Also, Caturday Art in charcoal pencil.
My Albrecht Durers are here and they are fabulous!
@FlyingToaster: You touch on an issue that drives me nuts with at least our area’s homeless advocates: they treat the entire cohort as though they all have exactly the same issue: lack of an affordable dwelling, when anybody with a pair of eyes knows they instead comprise a vast swath of humanity, only some of whom are even capable of maintaining a house and themselves.
Mental illness, developmental disability, dementia, addiction, untreated physical illness, dangerous home situation, outstanding warrants, probably a hundred others. Frankly, I also encounter a good deal of “can’t be around others” during a single walk or bike ride.
“You can’t enforce no-camping laws until you have enough housing for everybody.” is not a conversation starter but it’s where our advocates begin. I’m trying to recall a time when the city ever had “enough homes.”
Given the real estate prices in Florida, I can’t see any tiny-house communities outside the swamps. Since we’re under a tornado watch until 10 tonight, I’m not going to go out looking, either.
@FlyingToaster: That’s what I was thinking-it may be safer to house people separately than in 1 large building and allow for better management of how folks are doing. Also, having your own home within a community of others would allow them to rebuild social connections/share experiences which may help them get back on their feet faster.
@Redshift: That motherfucker has a lot to answer for. He started closing the state hospitals as governor and while some were moved into group homes others were just turned out to fend for themselves. The resource represented by the hospitals has never been reestablished in any form, while the state population has doubled.
“Government is the problem. Hey, elect me to run the government” should have been a tell, but noooo, he rocked a suit.
Deputinize Eurasia for the Kuriles to St Petersburg
I reserve my concern for people who are generally working, but got caught in a temporary bind. The perpetually homeless (like the shithead that infests the nice city benches in front of my office, aggressively panhandling in the moments when he’s not soiling his pants, thereby rendering the benches useless) can suck my ass.
Did I mention the guy staggering stoned down Main Street, dragging a filthy sleeping bag? Or the one haranguing an innocent convention goer about how he can shit in the middle of the street and not be bothered? Or the one I saw at a temporary camp in a prominent spot that was squatting out a big one right in the middle of the encampment? Or how about the 20-something one who stood at an interior elevator of a building I once worked in, getting in the faces of low-paid secretaries to demand money (that one was one I dealt with, I dragged him out to the street by the collar and he may have tripped a couple of times on the way out).
Anyway, for those of us who aren’t homeless advocates, the perpetually homeless are genuinely annoying nuisances and about as welcome as a turd in a punchbowl. My attitude toward them is very similar to that of a 20s era Bolshevik.
@Kent: These are meant to be temporary transitional housing, not a permanent solution. This is a way to get people off the street, into a safe secure place while they get whatever other assistance they need, be it medical, psychiatric, educational, etc. It gives them a chance to actually get out of that life because they’re able to get a good night’s sleep, shower daily, launder their clothes, eat well, etc. No one is pitching tiny home communities as the solution. It’s the start of the journey, not the endpoint.
I have never been even close to unhoused, but count me as someone who would definitely prefer these tiny houses, with a fairly small community around them, to a high-rise. Even if the bathroom was available to the whole community. Imagine how nice this would be after sleeping under a bridge or in some of those fallen-down tents.
eta: Not to mention the security and upkeep provided.
most commercial spaces are only affordable as a retrofit to turn into SRO’s, (single room occupancy)*. The occupants get a single room that functions as bedroom, living room, storage. Bathrooms, dining space and kitchen space are in a common area.
*anything more requires major entire building plumbing, sound abatement, fire protection, windows, doors, security and electrical refits right down to the sewage system.
SRO’s tend to fail their occupants in regards to health and safety. They require Professional Staff to police the common areas, building security, clean, regulate clients, assist clients, a combination of janitor, social services worker, deconfliction specialist. security guard, while paying minimum wage.
@WaterGirl: Veteran’s Community Project – or VCP – is Jason Kander’s group.
I recognized the houses from a video a while back. Because I thought they were hideous design and use of space. And I love Tiny Houses.
But I understand the PTSD safe space aspect of the design. And how they also need them to be orderly and easy to keep clean. So I have let go of my aesthetic desires in favor of the VeteraN’s needs.
These projects are all wonderful.
I feel the same way. I also wonder if tiny homes are better for vets with PTSD who would be alarmed at sudden loud noises coming from an adjacent neighbor. I don’t have PTSD but after living in a ground floor apt and hearing people walk above me, I never lived on the ground floor again.
ETA> What WG said at #35
@Salty Sam: The term “homeless” carries very negative connotations, and it’s a worthwhile effort to try to reshape our language to avoid that. “Unhoused” has an implicit meaning that this person had been denied, through whatever events or reasons, the basic human right to shelter.
Another example: I call myself “child-free” NOT “childless”. Because for me, there is no “less” about it. And when other people who do have kids refer to people like me as “childless” there is a negative tone to that word, subconscious or not.
@Amir Khalid: Okay, but by that rationale, we should still be calling people the r word.
Yeah, I’m glad we now use ginger instead of redhead.
I am gormfree.
Big fan of this effort but really the problem is that our current arrangement is producing people who cannot afford rent in ever growing numbers. In my city rents start around $1,000/ month and minimum wage is $7.25/hour. Most of these jobs won’t schedule you more than 30 hours/week if they can avoid it. People make ends meet until they can’t, and but for the grace of God, there go I.
ETA yes I know most places now pay more than $7.25, but even so, rents have gone up far, far faster than wages for the poor.
Joy in FL
There are many ways to reduce the number of people who lack of housing.
I love knowing more about this particular way.
Thank you, TaMara.
@E.: How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
Elephants are awesome. Anyone who eats them is scum.
I recommend Rough Sleepers, by Tracy Kidder for a better understanding of why the tiny houses are a better solution for many homeless people and for a better understanding of homelessness. It was a real eye opener for me.
See also Greyson Bakery in Yonkers, NY. There is never one solution fits all.
@WaterGirl: no my point is this is a different problem. This is an elephant that grows larger while you are eating him and at a pace that exceeds what you can eat.
@Baud: Also vewy, vewy hungwy.
Everything under the Sun. It’s kinda staggering.
I first volunteered on the homeless when my Church opened up a big Hall on the Church campus …
… but that was only for cold nights.
So, for a short time, I volunteered at the local shelter (it’s called 40 Prado because, well, it’s address is 40 Prado; not a lot of imagination there). Now, I know just a bit less than jack shit about shelters, but 40 Prado is highly regarded. Function of Central Coast having a bit of money …
… but the heartbreaking thing are the Folks that have FT (or near FT) jobs that simply can’t afford the area that are forced to stay at Prado.
I didn’t stay long; maybe if I was a trained professional, I could have done more, but as a trained volunteer, well, it was just too hard. As I noted above, you see everything. It’s sad on steroids.
Back during Reagan’s Recession, I had one full time job, (minimum wage) and 3 part time jobs (minimum wage). I slept on buses, in squats and on the grass, ate either cheap fast food or food that could be stored briefly with out having to be kept cold. I washed up in Company sinks and did laundry at my parents house or laundromats when I could. I lived like that for 2 years.
@WaterGirl: I definitely think you guys get a lot of abuse, especially lately, and it has been painful to watch. Not sure why people feel so free to fling it about, TBH.
@Deputinize Eurasia for the Kuriles to St Petersburg: You are often the reason I quit reading comments. What a fucking jerk.
@Jay: I am not sure I understand your point. I too have lived on the streets or in my car for long (more than a year) periods, while also working. It has given me great sympathy for those who endure that now. If you are saying rents have always been high, well, yeah. They’re higher now.
Yeah, in Canada. The general saying is that economically, when the US has a cold, Canada get’s pneumonia. Interest rates here hit 36% and 40% of the population left BC, mostly for Ontario, who had at least an industrial/tech base not quite as hard hit as BC’s resource base
In my age group, I was kinda lucky. I had jobs that paid a in total, about double welfare. Most of my friends didn’t even have a part time job and were on welfare. There were lots of squats, businesses that failed, houses that the owners had just walked away from, even major public protest squats.
Balloon Juice needs more violence inherent in the system.
@Deputinize Eurasia for the Kuriles to St Petersburg: Wow okay you just straight up told everyone you’re garbage with no hesitation.
I’ve never been unhoused myself, but I’ve known people who were, and you have zero idea of what a painful and difficult life that existence can be, nor how nearly impossible it can be to pull one’s self out of it. You go try to apply for jobs when you don’t have an address to give them, don’t always have a phone if you can’t afford to put minutes on it, don’t always have internet if you can’t get to the library, can’t always bathe before an interview or wear clean clothing. Many many people end up on the streets through no or minimal fault of their own, and once they’re there, if they don’t have friends or family who can help, it spirals quickly.
Yes, sometimes they can be difficult. I lived in downtown San Francisco, believe me, I am aware of the issue around human feces on the sidewalk. Of course, it’s hard to find a bathroom when businesses won’t let you use theirs and there are only a few pay toilets around the city which are often vandalized or out of order because they don’t bother with upkeep. Yes, many of them struggle with substance dependency which can cause troubling behavior, but – and I’m sure you’ll disagree – substance dependency is an ILLNESS, not a sin, and most of them turned to it once they were on the streets as a way to try to cope with the grim reality of their lives.
Unhoused people are PEOPLE, and they have as much value as you do. Honestly, after this comment, I’d say they have a lot more. If you see someone struggling in a way you’ve never experienced and your sole response is to sneer and insult them, that indicates a problem with YOU, not them
ETA: I gotta say, the reason I keep ghosting this place is because more and more of y’all are either turning into hateful jerks or you’ve always been hateful jerks and the masks just keep slipping. What the absolute fuck.
The Kropenhagen Interpretation
@WaterGirl: Right. And it isn’t like any of you are being paid or most of us are paying to be here.
There are posts that don’t interest me. I ignore them.
“Size isn’t everything.”
I think it’s the same ones, and they are just taking up more space now. And maybe we need to think how we let that happen.
@Alison Rose: “More and more” is still a very small percentage of the people on Balloon Juice.
I’m glad you are reminding us of this. You probably need to post this on a regular basis. ;-)
I would expect that it’s worse for TaMara, since she generally posts “good news” threads. To post something that she regards as genuinely good news, the kind of post to make you feel better in these days of doom & gloom, and then to have thoughtless people crap on the thread, has to really hurt.
@E.: one way to solve that is to limit non-owner occupied residences in the same city to some reasonable number to prevent speculators flipping housing units into mostly vacant airbnbs.
Howard Hughes did without for years.
@WaterGirl: Yeah, well, squeaky wheels and all that. If there are a few dozen nice comments and then one horrible one, that horrible one is still horrible. If you have a dinner party and invite ten people, and nine of them are polite and kind and chill and one of them stands on their chair and starts yelling about how mean trans people are and how disgusting unhoused people are, guess who you’re gonna remember after the party is over
And I’ll add, it was way more than one shitty comment on eddie’s posts. And I’m still baffled as to how that was allowed to happen here.
Jason Kander started this project in Kansas City and it’s been very successful, so much so that they’ve spread to St. Louis and other cities. It’s not just about housing. They have a full menu of supportive services – mental and physical health, job placement, help with permanent housing (it’s only intended to be transitional for about a year). It’s accessible to public transportation and trauma-informed. Many of these vets have some PTSD, so the arrangement of the homes and the inside of the homes (chairs facing the door, window placement sort of things) is arranged so it feels safe to those with PTSD. Those who just say you could house more people differently are missing the point. https://www.veteranscommunityproject.org/jason-kander
@Deputinize Eurasia for the Kuriles to St Petersburg: The milk of human kindness literally drips from your comment. JFC.
@satby: I agree! The end point of focusing more and more on the physical bodies and infrastructure of the unhoused while not aggressively attending to the underlying economic causes of this will always get inadequate results. It’s like increasing lanes on the freeway to deal with traffic congestion.
@schrodingers_cat: For those in the not cheap tiny homes its about living simply. They want smaller places and I guess they spend very little time at home or something. The expensive places have all kind of foldaway tables and storage space. Likely not what these vets are getting.
A person can live in a 12×12 space sure, but its not exactly great living, let alone for a tall/wide person that has issues in normal places.
Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.
A couple of large problems with the efficient multi-resident buildings are stairs and lack of greenspace.
That narrow ribbon of airgap between you and a neighbor seems to matter a lot. And stairs are a necessary evil much more navigable by the healthy than the tired, the old, and those rough-handled by life.
Kind of heads into the whole “quality of life” zone that people keep bringing up.
Sounds like van life is right for you.
Some people choose to live on boats. And not just cool barge things on the Seine. Some even join the navy – fucking weirdos.
Where is it? I’ve never seen it.
@Alison Rose: The most successful communities, workplaces, whatever, are places where individuals speak up when they think others out of bounds.
I don’t mean a difference of opinion – we don’t all have to think the same – but we can, and the best of us do, hold up a mirror so the person has some feedback.
You don’t tell your best friend “you shouldn’t do that because I think it’s wrong”, you tell your best friend that you are perplexed/surprised that they are doing x because it doesn’t seem to fit into their values.
We can argue about whether thinking a homeless person is less than human is an opinion that we can disagree about – or whether that’s cold and callous and what it says about the person who is saying that, and what kind of person that makes them.
Either way, the best entities handle that as things come up, just like is happening here.
My two cents.
@Omnes Omnibus: 304 North Third Street. It’s where E. Johnson splits off from Packers Avenue. Used to be a garage there. It’s a block or so from East High.
@ALurkSupreme: That location make a lot of sense. Thanks. I live on the west side and seldom get east of the Isthmus these days.
ETA: It’s also surprisingly close to the Governor’s Mansion.
John has a pretty laissez-faire attitude towards the comments, figuring that people will mostly work it out for themselves, with judicious use of the pie filter and minimal moderation. And, of course, none of the front-pagers have the time to act as full-time moderators.
Honestly, despite the recent dust-ups in the Ukraine threads, this thread, the Planet Eddie threads, etc., this blog has seen a lot worse. We had some *really* persistent trolls back in the day. And the same-sex marriage threads and, later, the Hillary vs. Bernie threads, saw some really vicious traffic here.
When Kamala Harris runs for President in 2028, assuming that she does, I’m probably going to take a leave of absence from any and all Internet activity, as I expect things to get nasty again and I just don’t have the patience to deal with it anymore
Back on topic, if I were homeless again, I would very much prefer a tiny home to living in an apartment. The two times this happened to me, I was able to find accommodation fairly quickly, but the accommodations (apartments) in each case were pretty awful.
@Salty Sam: Yep…when I was on the Planning Commission long ago, the developers would build out the big homes first (in a “planned” community), and when time came for the second tier of less expensive houses to be constructed on adjoining land, the first residents would go ballistic, even though they supposedly were informed that this was how the whole thing was intended to build out. And don’t ask about the community response when the apartment buildings came due for construction. Talk about snowflakes lol
@Omnes Omnibus: No problem. Have a good evening.
Dorothy A. Winsor
@PaulB: When I first started posting on BJ, I had to learn to scroll past some fierce arguments. I think some posters took pride in being able to have those fights. It’s when the arguments get personally hurtful, that I’ve seen commenters step in and say don’t do that.
ETA: I hate conflict, so it took me a while. It was an insult directed at Majorx4 that led me to say something
@PaulB: I think the Trump years thinned a lot of people’s skins. I know that simply arguing for fun about metadata and DRONZZZZ doesn’t have the appeal for me that it used to have and a lot of today’s issues really are life or death. Senses of humor, even dark ones, have been worn rather thin as well.
@evodevo: Wealthy people have a lot to answer for.
@eclare: I was being half serious.
But seriously, some people have turned cargo/contractor vans and box trucks (think U-Haul) into some pretty sweet homes on wheels.
And their YouTube channels can be quite awesome.
@Alison Rose: It feels as though most people are stressed. Just looking at Joe My God and there’s a post by Junior saying Drag Queens should be fed into wood chippers, the next is the Nazi’s threatening a drag show in Columbus, and more. It’s just attacks on LGBTQ people. If some commenters are nasty it feels like my moods – mostly fine but not always.
@Kent: Good lord, show us that you don’t know anything about the homeless why don’t you?
People are not usually homeless because there is a shortage of housing my dear ignoramous. I will grant you it has become a problem in California because of cost and lethargy to change building permits, but that is an exception, not typical.
Homelessness has several types of underlying issues. A big one is mental illness untreated. Drug use is also a factor and that can be related as it can be an attempt to self medicate. That in turn means ordinary people tend to not want a large group of homeless or former homeless people living right next to them, because giving them houses doesn’t actually fix their problems and they are often rather unpleasant to be around, including to each other. This does not mean it’s Ok to ignore them, just that a house cannot be all you do if you want it to work. It also means if you don’t figure out the whole problem and try to help it, you will create a mess that is so unpleasant for the surrounding area residents that they will shut it down and become anti homeless.
Next, there are those who are homeless because of poverty and crisis circumstances. Those can more easily be helped but may need counseling or aid with domestic violence evasion. Still, they are sympathetic. However, they also have to be protected. In a regular homeless shelter, there is a lot of work in policing that some don’t bully or rape others. This is also why those big apartment projects for the homeless end up being by reputation so dangerous. It only takes a few of the drug users or mentally unstable to turn it into a terrifying environment for the rest. Big apartments require a lot of monitoring. They also dominate an area.
So a good homeless project always takes a lot more work and thought than just build a shelter.
Last, the veterans tend to be a component of the homeless because of untreated PST after wars. They were indoctrinated to be tough, handle anything and it works against them getting the help they are entitled to for quite a while from what I have seen. They also may have wounds with pain leading to drug addictions. So they can end up with no job and homeless. Other veterans often concentrate on helping them specifically, but it is pretty related to the above issues, except there is usually care for them if they will go to it.
It’s good for a community to get involved in building these houses though. Don’t underestimate how important it is to build connections with people in a community to the homeless. Building something with your own hands means more to people than donating. Jimmy Carter understood that. People need to stick with helping the homeless long term.
I kind of was too! There was a semi-famous reality show couple (do not ask me what tv shows I watch) that lived in a van for a couple of years. Somehow they survived and are now engaged. I agree with whoever posted above that running water was a must, I could not do that.
Thank you, TaMara, for highlighting another way communities are trying to solve homelessness.
Besides the logistics and expense, I think a tiny home feels more like a home than would an apartment in a high rise. It would be best if the tiny house villages were sited somewhere “nice,” but in today’s America, where cruelty and rapaciousness rule, we’re lucky they exist at all.
There are a few in Seattle, mostly occupying former parking lots. They all have bathroom/shower blocks and a common kitchen/food storage block. Not sure about social common areas, though at one such village I went to, the “kitchen building” was for all intents and purposes also the common social area. Which makes sense: people have always congregated around food.
As many pointed out, there are many reasons why people end up unhoused so I for one applaud a multi-prong approach encompassing different types of housing.
As for affordable housing, I just finished serving on a steering committee about the future of a 5 square mile area in the Denver suburbs. The nimbyism was at times ridiculous, not only about denser housing but we actually had one guy arguing against having his street striped for bike paths. Governor Polis is trying to end exclusionary zoning statewide and the Dem legislature is having none of it.
Thanks to all the commenters interested in the issue of unhoused and unaffordable housing and to TaMara for bringing up this topic. It’s thorny and important.
in the library we have a lot of unhoused people every day. For the most part they just come in, use the wifi, public pcs, restrooms, sleep while faking being awake. It’s a safe place, sheltered from the weather which is a big deal in FL.
By and large they’re people who want very little interaction with others
Occasionally have some spectacular fights and the restrooms get messed up a lot* but for the most part they get on with what they want to do and keep themselves to themselves. We’re pretty tolerant on noise but that can get fun like the guy last week screaming at me to “get the fuck out of his face” ** after being asked to tone it down a bit.
I like the Tiny house idea, most of the unhoused I know are pretty paranoid and would be more comfortable in one of those than an apartment complex.
* like a lot, I’ve worked in an old fashioned mental hospital and our restrooms get messed up worse.
** funnily he was the one who came charging over and shoved his face in my face.
So when I was in Munich in 2009, I toured the Microcompact Home village. This was built for students. Far more spatially efficient than this thing, because each home was essentially a cube that got loaded on a steel rack. The rack was both the walkways to access the homes, but also the shared infrastructure….piping, conduit, etc. And those things were pretty sophisticated in their highly machined construction.
So are we, so far just wind, some rain, lot of thunder a bit to the north. Hope you’re ok where you are
@Suzanne: The tiny homes shown on this post look more homey than those cubes. For the people who are being served by them, I would suspect that that homeyness is part of the attraction.
It doesn’t matter who I’m talking to or not talking to. A pod of 20 or 30 tiny homes here and there isn’t going to even be a drop in the bucket when there are several thousand unhoused in this county and thousands more across the river in Portland. I mean it’s probably a nice solution for a few, but it isn’t going scratch the surface of the problem.
And until that changes, Colorado isn’t going to even put a dent into its homeless or unhoused population. And neither will the Portland metro where I live.
@Kent: Did anyone even come close to suggesting that these houses were there ONE TRUE AND COMPLETE SOLUTION (TM) to the problem?
@Omnes Omnibus: Agreed. The Microcompact homes were all super-contemporary in their outfit. But that doesn’t have to be that way.
The shared utilities is the game-changer, though. Honestly, that’s the part of building that drives the cost. (I bet y’all would be shocked to learn that, on my projects, mechanical scope — air handling and ductwork and chilled water to create it — usually exceeds the cost of substructure and superstructure combined.) It’s a fascinating way to create the separateness of these tiny homes and still maintain some of the efficiency of stacking into one building.
Giuliani explained that he spent $2m to set up a so-called Voter Integrity Committee which was headed by Randy Levine, current president of the New York Yankees baseball team, and John Sweeney, a former New York Republican congressman.
“So they went through East Harlem, which is all Hispanic, and they gave out little cards, and the card said: ‘If you come to vote, make sure you have your green card because INS are picking up illegals.’ So they spread it all over the Hispanic …” said Giuliani, referring to the now defunct US Immigration and Naturalization Service before trailing off.
“Oh my gosh,” Lake replied as she raised her eyebrows.
@Kent: In general, as has been noted, these are NOT meant to be a permanent situation. They are often referred to as transitional housing or similar. This is a (relatively speaking) quicker way to get people off the streets and into some type of shelter where they can actually live (unlike homeless shelters) and bathe and all that, while they get help finding work, getting medical care, etc, until they can move into an actual apartment. (And yes, housing costs mean that this process might take longer or be more difficult than we would hope.)
No one is aiming to have people live in these teeny spaces for the rest of their lives.
A few years ago, the non-profit my s-i-l works for built a new shelter for abused women and it was all done with donations. I remember seeing the numbers for the dollar value of the plumbing and ductwork that local companies provided.
ETA: It is a good organization if anyone wants to throw money its way.
What is the homeless rate in West Virginia?
Lots of vets there, lots of opioid abuse and addicts
But a very low rate of homelessness because housing is abundant and cheap.
When it takes $5K+ to get into the cheapest apartment in the area with first/last months rent, security deposit, credit checks, etc. it creates a problem that no amount of tiny house villages will solve.
That 12ft ladder paywall site that someone here suggested will get you around RS’s paywall.
Oh I understand exactly what they are. I pass by one every day. I just get frustrated that we do these endless expensive projects with very little effect when the cheap/free solutions are avoided at all cost (zoning changes, allowing private sector transitional housing, etc.). The corner might be turning here in the Pacific Northwest but any meaningful change is probably decades away
Seattle just prohibited single family zoning but they conveniently exempted any neighborhood with an HOA which means every upscale neighborhood in the entire city.
@Kent: This effort isn’t meant to solve the entire problem of homelessness across the country. It is the effort, started by a vet with PTSD, to aid other vets to access services with the VA, mental and physical health services, employment and transportation to ré-entre society. It’s been very successful addressing this problem, but it hasn’t solved peace in the Middle East, so why bother, right?
Yesterday either the WP or the Guardian ran the sad story of the one-time mayor of Bend, Oregon who became homeless after a downward spiral of mental health problems and other difficulties. We are all at risk from challenges; most of us are just lucky to have family or friends who will be there in times of crisis.
@Quinerly: I read that article and besides being PISSED, wondered if after all these years Rudy and Levine could be charged for voter suppression. Probably not, but grrrr!😖
@Kent: Okay, but like…those “cheap/free solutions” are not gonna happen overnight even if suddenly every politician wanted them and NIMBY assholes disappeared. You wanna make unhoused people wait on the streets until some pieces of shit who have never been in their position grow a soul?
Also, I doubt that private sector transitional housing would be some kind of magic potion. The private sector doesn’t have a very pretty track record when it comes to taking over for things the government ought to be handling.
Seriously? You know nothing about me. I teach HS in a poorer part of the city. I have multiple students who are homeless for various reasons.
There are really two populations of homeless here and everywhere. There are what I would call the “invisible homeless” who are doing what they can to lead normal lives, often working or going to school but reduced to couch surfing, itinerant motels, living out of cars or vans, etc. we often don’t see them because they are hiding in plain sight. Then there are the visible homeless living in outdoor encampments, on sidewalks, etc. who often addictions or mental illness that makes them particularly difficult to help.
When you throw money at the problem (and Lord knows we have thrown billions at it) you tend to help the “invisible homeless” first because they are most ready to be helped. And even if you find subsidized low income housing for thousands, you don’t hardly even scratch the surface of the visible homeless population. You can’t solve the problem with subsidies because in every high-cost city there simply isn’t remotely enough subsidy money or low income housing projects to even make a dent. Most low income people actually live in market-rate housing. The only way to really address the problem is to let the private sector build vastly more market-rate housing which will help the “invisible homeless” population and let us focus on the more difficult to help visible homeless.
What happened during the pandemic when chip shortages and supply chain issues reduced the supply of new cars in this country? Almost instantly the price of used cars shot up out of sight and it became nearly impossible to find decent used cars at any price. The cascade effect raised prices on every kind of used cars from late model trade-ins with 5k miles on them to 20 year old junkers.
That is exactly what we are doing in every single blue city in the country. We are throttling the production of new housing (and outright prohibiting many types) which raises the price of every other kind of housing down to the most lowly trailer on the edge of town. And the depressing thing is that the solutions are entirely free. It costs the public nothing to allow the private sector to build more market-rate housing. It just takes a few strokes of the pen.
I actually support these sorts of tiny house project to a point. But not if they are an excuse for inaction where it will actually make a difference. Which is often the case. NIMBYs and their political enablers will throw money (our money) at every other non-solution rather than address the real problem head-on.
Why in God’s name is it cheaper to rent an apartment in Tokyo than Portland? Think about that.
I can’t stand his voice. I do have to wonder if he was drunk (again) on Bannon’s show. I refuse to listen to it, though
And WTF is Bannon doing on the airwaves? Yes, I know……
RawStory has a piece up on it too.
I live in San Francisco and work in the Civic Center so I am all too aware of human waste on the sidewalk. But the public toilets close at 7 pm; the library closes at 8 pm only on Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday. On all other days it closes at 5 or 6 pm. What are the people without homes supposed to do?
I do think the cost of housing here is one part of the issue. So is NIMBYism. Someone suggested adding 1 story to planned 2 story apartment buildings and the surrounding neighborhood went utterly bananas about how it would change the character of the area. People don’t seem to realize that if there’s not enough housing to meet demand the price will go up.
Also ensuring that every new neighborhood ever built will have a HOA.
I’m living in a neighborhood mostly built pre-war, so no HOA (and the house adjacent to mine is Section 8 housing). As much as HOAs piss me off…. I do wish there was a way to compel better behavior without one. The burned-out husk two doors down continues to sit vacant, falling further into disrepair, probably containing wild animals, and multiple reports to the City have not produced any action. For over a year now.
As frustrating as I find the NIMBYs, I don’t think their concerns are invalid. There are bad actors out there and the impulse to get away from them is not irrational.
I know what you post. And what you have posted here has been shitting on this effort and swatting away arguments defending it. It looks oblivious to me. It’s akin to saying that food banks don’t solve system food insecurity so they are useless. Would you prefer wrongheaded to oblivious?
West of the Rockies
This is the one area where I know I can perhaps sound like a Fox News viewer. I live in Chico, CA. After the Camp Fire in Paradise (where I grew up mostly), the homeless population ballooned. There is so much more theft. I see people routinely walk into a store, grab things and leave. Bike theft has soared. There is so much more trash and excrement.
The tiny home village works for some, but I’ve heard some would-be residents turn their noses up at it and call it prison because drugs and alcohol are not allowed.
I have helped the homeless with cash, food, clothing, rides. I know some by first name. I do not consider myself heartless. But I think sometimes the homeless are almost romanticized. They are not all honest, hard working folks who just need a hand (though perhaps many are). For those who genuinely need it, I’m all in.
I guess I wish we could discern who would like to create a better situation for themselves, who wants to contribute to the community in return, who wants to utilize counseling and such, so we could help them.
But to my eyes, some people who could work don’t want to work, to learn, to contribute. How long do such people deserve help that could go to someone who really needs it? Forever? A free apartment and food, utilities, internet, car, gas, booze and drugs forever?
I’ve ranted a bit and am not Mr. Optimism on this particular subject.
here, renovictions are common. An old 1960’s/70/s apartment block is “renovated” and rents go from $750* a month to $1800.
*Rent increases are fixed annually at 3% so older buildings with long term tenant’s rent has not even come close to market rates.
The other is that an old 2-3 story apartment building is bought, tenants are evicted, the building is torn down, and 5-7 years later, a 25 story apartment building with efficiency suites and condo’s is ready for occupancy, at $2000 a month rent or $550,000 to own.
Here, the Government brought in a significant tax on unoccupied residential property, as roughly 25% of all housing was vacant, as offshore and local buyers had bought the property just as investments, and kept them vacant. 1/3 of the apartments in my complex, 140, are vacant.
Michael, the Repair Tech at the Coquitlam Orange lives life beyond his Orange income. In part, it’s because he still has 3 jobs, but a big part of it is he and his wife optioned into a couple of buildings before they had even cleared the sites for new construction. $15 k down at the time, then 7 years of interest at 4% on the down, apartments market priced at $250k when first marketed, selling for $450k when ready for occupancy, so they “sold” 6 on day 1, kept 2, live in one, (a 3 bedroom, almost penthouse just down the street from me) and rent the other.
There is now a speculation tax on real estate sales, but you can weasel out of that by just having your mail delivered there for ^ months, even while you are renovating.
Tamara, thank you so much for this post and the compilation of videos! I have always loved tiny house videos (I am fascinated by the ingenuity that goes into their design), and I have seen vague references to using tiny houses as short term solutions for the unhoused, but this is the first detailed glimpse I have seen. What a great idea! The value of including people living in tiny houses into a broader community makes a lot of sense to me.
I live in MA and I have no idea if we are doing anything like this, but now I am inspired to look.
water tank, (engine heat/propane back up) pressure pump, pressure tank, voila! running hot and cold water. You can even run 10 gallons before the pump kicks in. My 26 foot sailboat back in the day had hot and cold running water, toilet, shower and when hooked up at the dock*, the water was endless,
*same in an RV park or park with taps.
@Omnes Omnibus: Maybe it’s just that TedTalky “solutions” aren’t so dreamy and fun when they are addressing problems that you have experienced or studied with some care.
Overlooked are housing options for young people, many of whom are employed but deeply in debt from the burgeoning cost of higher education.
Living for $62/day in a renovated dumpster.
@Mike in NC:
One might have to tear down any buildings on the properties to create usable land that someone, even a person currently without a residence would want to live on. You know clearing the stench and all that. I can think of one that has some rather expensive plumbing products that could pay for a lot of this.
@West of the Rockies:
That seemed to be the point for most of these tiny home communities, that they are helping specific populations-vets, recently homeless who want to work, working people who can’t afford housing. Also, it seemed from most of the videos that drugs/alcohol, lawbreaking, violence wasn’t tolerated. As others have noted, homelessness is a myriad of issues so there won’t be 1 (or even 2 or 3) solutions that will help everyone which will continue to be frustrating to those living in communities and who want to help.
ETA: And yes, there are some people for which housing won’t help no matter what type it is due to severe mental health, addiction, or other issues.
As some have noted, these tiny house communities will not solve the housing problem overall. However, it sounds like motivated people can work together to provide these solutions without signing up for the massive legal, financial, and bureaucratic difficulties required to put together larger projects. The lives of these unhoused folks matter, who cares if this approach doesn’t solve most of the housing problems?
What I see here in the Portland metro is literally billions of dollars spent on an endless array of “projects” yet the problem continues to grow worse. And the fact that we continue to throw good money after bad provides the excuse to avoid addressing the real obstacles that are exacerbating the problem.
I don’t have any particular problem with tiny house villages. I just don’t think they are remotely responsive to the scale of the problem we are facing. I also think they are just as likely to become blighted over time as larger and more efficiently built structures. There is nothing magic about tiny houses that are going to keep drugs, guns, violence, and crime away. It is the same exact population either way
I’m also not particularly in favor of massive public housing projects built on the public dime either. Those seem nearly impossible to get off the ground and operational. What I am in favor of is regulatory changes so that the private sector can build and operate inexpensive housing of the sort we used to have across the country before “urban renewal” and racism tore most of it down.
I’m willing to bet that in this area (Vancouver WA) there are hundreds of hard-working immigrants and others who would happily build up and operate all manner of cheap housing if we were to just legalize it. The 8×12 four bit rooms of the Roger Miller song, for example. But we don’t even conceive of those sorts of ideas because we lack the imagination and political will.
@Suzanne: I’m peripherally involved (as a prospective end user) with the renovation of a building at work. It’s on some historic list or other, so there are constraints on the façade, floor heights, etc. Planning started in 2009. It’s been through a couple of design contractors (the first had drawings putting HVAC ducts through an 18″ high concrete structural beam…). The pandemic and supply chain stuff is still affecting the work. The big issue now is figuring out where to put a 6″ sprinkler main and maintain an 8′ ceiling in a critical hallway for moving equipment. They’re estimating that maybe the work will finally be done in the summer of 2024. We have our doubts… :-/
I don’t envy you folks that have to try to make buildings work for people! Renovating office space for housing seems like even greater example of trying to put something where it really doesn’t want to go…
Thanks TaMara for the thread. These tiny house communities sound very interesting and useful and should be a good learning experience for governments for the future.
As I have noted on other threads, office-to-housing conversion is much more difficult and expensive than normies think, and will not pencil out except in a few select locations (think already really dense downtown location, an upscale historic building, with a rectangular floor plan rather than a square). The NYT did a really good piece on the technical challenges, which really become the financial challenges.
In most places, like your shitty suburban office park or strip retail center or dead mall, it would be far more feasible to tear down and rebuild purpose-built housing on the site.
@Omnes Omnibus: Living in a small space because you have to or because its a means to an end, like travel, is different than choosing it because that’s how you want to live.
@West of the Rockies:
when T and I relocated to Vancouver, ( because we could not make it in the town we had relocated to), no jobs, not even Fast Food, because they were bringing in Temporary Foreign Workers,
for the first 12 months we and our cat were the “invisible unhoused”.
We lived in a uninsured 4Runner with no 4 4WD that you had to keep your foot on the gas to keep from stalling out. Having lived in Vancouver for 30 years, I knew the places to park, (industrial parks) where we would not attract attention, we had a few friends who would let us park in their driveways.
T got a job first, seasonal, at minimum wage, but it paid for more than peanut butter. I got volenteer positions providing basic medical care to the unhoused at unhoused encampments. I got a “jerb”, which allowed us to put some money aside, and I kept volenteering on my days off. Then I got covid and then long covid. Part way through that, T got a real job. BTW, both of us are “professionals”. T’s job generated enough income and references, to allow us to rent, but more so, some of her co-workers (and boss) gave us house sitting and couch surfing places.
T blew up in early 2022. Her job, dealing with every social justice issue in Canada, from the unhoused, through global warming, covid and indiginous issues, burned her out, so she went on disability. Then I got fired, so once again, we became part of the precariate. I October, we were looking at being unhoused again, but I got another “jerb” and then in March, T’s disability claim, a year later, went through, so she got a lump sum payment from the Insurer, and bi-weekly payments equal to 75% of her salary.
I still volenteer, but they only allow me to do admin work. When I was out in the field, most of the people I dealt with were family groups of some kind, few had addiction issues, most had jobs or some way of earning income aside from welfare or EI. Those who were on EI or welfare, had to have a mailing address, and a big chunk of the assistance we gave was helping them get benifits or dealing with scammers.
So my picture of the unhoused is quite a bit different from yours
Working retail, my picture of theft is different again from yours. All of the theft issues we dealt with were organized gangs, with multiple houses/apartments used as warehouses, reselling the stolen product over the internet, often on dark sites. The “binner” going through your recycle bins at 3am, is taking them to a bottle depot, he’s not stealing you bike and selling it on the dark web.
@Kent: What you suggest is sensible and the way you got ganged up on this thread is ridiculous.
Yes, our cities are full of endless sprawl that can be rebuilt into decent housing. Trying to remodel a strip mall is probably stupid. Bulldoze it and build new housing. Mostly it is regulatory barriers and NIMBYs that blocks that from happening. Not economics.
Old smaller historic office buildings are probably easier to convert to lofts and condos than big modern office buildings anyway. Because they tend to be designed with lots of small spaces rather than giant open seas of cubicles. But you still have the plumbing and wiring issues which can be problematic.
in Vancouver, in Shawnessy, an old (late 60’s)270 apartment, multibuilding social housing “project” was sold to a developer, with the condition that the high density housing would be 40% social housing. 30 years later, despite everything being bulldozed, nothing has been built.
Just recently, 4/8 sites on False Creek, set aside 30 years ago for social housing, were sold by the City of Vancouver, at $1* per square foot with no requirement for social housing.
*Current market rates in the area are $271 per square foot.
The Moar You Know
@Deputinize Eurasia for the Kuriles to St Petersburg: I lived in SF for five years and could not agree more.
Most of these people are fucked up beyond belief with primarily substance abuse, secondarily with insanity, and frankly housing isn’t going to help them. Institutionalizing them would.
More than problematic – effectively impossible.
Changes in building codes mean that you need sprinklers in new spaces. Which means you need water lines and mains and maybe a fire pump (which requires its own space with regulations about what can go near it). That’s just one example. Another is HVAC – buildings in the 1940s didn’t have AC. You could conceivably run mini-splits everywhere to save on ductwork, but those aren’t cheap, and you still have to run the freon lines for them…
As Suzanne says, it quickly gets to be a very complicated solid geometry problem as each utility has its own constraints. And you often don’t know the full extent of the constraints in the building until you start ripping the insides apart…
The Japanese may have the right idea about houses after all…
West of the Rockies
I was homeless adjacent for about five months 8 years ago. Couch surfing, renting a spare room until some subsidized housing came available. I taught a couple classes at a CC, did house cleaning and low-grade handyman stuff, and trimmed weed until the task force made that work too iffy.
Life is sometimes fucking hard, even for someone with an advanced degree, marketable skills, and family/friends support.
I have lots of sympathy for people who are homeless and trying. I have sympathy for the homeless who are not especially trying because of mental illness, physical/cognitive disability for whom just existing is a massive challenge.
My sympathy fades a bit when the main problem is drugs and alcohol.
My sympathy flatlines when people could work but refuse or are criminal, violent, predatory assholes. As I said, maybe such people are a small percentage of the homeless.
@Another Scott: Every building system is different for offices vs. residential. Electrical, mechanical, egress, plumbing, fire protection, blah blah blah. The buildings that are good that it made sense to convert already converted (industrial buildings to awesome lofts). The buildings that are beautiful and being converted to residential are rare and the housing is expensive.
Honestly, these kinds of small home projects are great for markets other than unhoused people. I already mentioned the Microcompact home concept that I saw in Munich, which is for students, but many young singles and DINKs would also be attracted to something not much different than this project. Tokyo has multiple buildings with very small individual living spaces (basically just bedroom and bath) and then shared socializing and cooking spaces.
I’ve been out to the Mobile Loaves and Fishes site that is near you. The bride and I took a Lyft from downtown Austin. It’s well outside of town. The driver was an ex NYC cop who lived less than 1/2 mile from MLF and didn’t know of it’s existence.
They treat long term homelessness. To be eligible to live there you have to have been on the street for a year. The city is thrilled that someone is doing this and provides bus service to the city, which is 20 minutes away. Residents are helped with social services on site by .gov agencies who come out and have a presence there.
They have just bought acreage in 2 other spots, away from the city’s center. This is working, but it’s expensive. They don’t demand sobriety. All tenants pay rent with their .gov checks. They believe in earning a dignified income. They have a “rec center” where they encourage small, small business. They call it “Micro Enterprise opportunities.
@West of the Rockies:
“My sympathy flatlines when people could work but refuse or are criminal, violent, predatory assholes. As I said, maybe such people are a small percentage of the homeless.”
My experience is that the unhoused criminals are not unhoused, they are mobile housed. They have at least 1 RV, several vehicles, because they can only run their scams and theft MO’s in an area for a while before they attract “heat” and attention, so they move on.
At Orange, we knew who the repeat crooks were, and basically all the staff would “customer service” the crap out of them to the point they could not steal a chicklet.
While the others may be also scamming social services, they have housing. It’s takes a while to sell off 20 Dewalt 24V batteries or a Hilti Coring Machine and a web presence, and you have to store the stuff for 2-6months at best before you get a sale. They arn’t unhoused.
Most of the people I dealt with had no criminal, ( other than being unhoused) or addiction issues. A few had minor addiction issues that put them at high risk, ( bad drugs, no regular dealer), but were managing, a tiny number had serious addiction issues, plus mental health issues. One girl I narcophan’d was still 6 months out on a wait list for mental health support. Every time I saw her, (once a week) I would make sure we had a coffee together, for up to 4 hours so we could really talk. I got her in pro bono with Gene, a specialist in children’s abuse issues, who was my genius therapist 30 years ago.
We have two of these tiny home communities here, with a third one on the drawing board. They’re built on the site of former trailer parks, so all the utility hookups are already there and there are no zoning problems. They’re a particular solution to a particular problem, not a total solution to homelessness.
As for problems like lack of bathroom facilities, I can’t blame business owners for not wanting their customer bathrooms trashed. When they built a new bus transfer station here they put in bathrooms even though everyone they consulted with told them not to. They had to close them because they were CONSTANTLY vandalized. Toilets deliberately stopped up, sinks and faucets torn off the walls, feces smeared on the walls, stuff like that. Unfortunately, some in the unhoused population make it impossible for services like that to be offered. How many times should the public coffers pay to replace the sinks and repair the plumbing? Maybe the public toilets aren’t maintained because of a lack of funds.
@Soprano2: I used to work in a building that was basically right on the edge of an expensive area and a much, uhhhhhh, less expensive area. I had to stop working late because I would go out to my car and there were people shooting up under the stairs to the parking garage. We also had an incident in which an unhoused man came into the building to clean himself in the bathroom. He climbed on the counter to wash his feet in the sink. The entire counter collapsed and shattered, he got all cut up and bloody, and had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance. It was terrible. We also had an unhoused man walk into the office suite and pull out a knife in front of our admin….and then after a dramatic pause, he pulled out an apple and started peeling it. None of this is acceptable behavior and it needs to be controlled. I am all for the full gamut of solutions, and I donate to that effect. But I’m not especially tolerant of disorder, and I don’t think it’s just something I have to learn to live with.
yes, thank you!
we had public washrooms. The unhoused wern’t much a problem, other than the occasional .addicted nodding off in the stall. Most of the problems were “customers” crapping in the urinals because the one stall was occupied, shoplifters, ( mostly tradesmen) flushing the packaging down the toilet so they could claim “yeah, it’s mine”, plugging up our drains, (low lying area, used to be a swamp) for weeks, (portapotties then on site, once, a Movie studio mobile bathroom).
I worked back in the day as a busboy/dishwasher/janitor back in the day. My takeaway was that many people were disgusting.
I found that a fair number of unhoused people had “anti-social issues”, mostly due to the abuse and micro aggressions they experienced daily.
See the SF Fire Chief who had a hobby of pepper spraying sleeping unhoused people in his neighborhood, until he missed, the unhoused person beat him into the hospital, was charged, but months later, out comes video of 9 cases so far, of him pepper spraying sleeping unhoused people.
We have some unhoused people passing through our area. It’s not a good, or safe area, for the unhoused. We have tried to help as much as we can. Good sleeping bags, meals, gortex jackets, ( Steve donates working computers to a BBY thrift shop, that being in BBY, always has once worn, (Whistler) gortex outer ware for $15 to $20 bucks), which because of gig work and my former jobs, I would buy as work wear.
@Jay: I don’t know if it was the unhoused or just random assholes who caused all the problems, but regardless everyone lost access to the facilities because of these problems. I know unhoused people get blamed for things even when they aren’t doing them. I should have been clearer.
@Mike in NC: Eminent domain: no. Confiscate his assets to pay off his debts from criming.
when we left the property, we left 4 vehicles there,
so last week I got at call from the RCMP.
They busted some guy for having stolen property in a trailer, (tools, motorcycle),
Turns out, the trailer was mine. Had a VIN and I still have title,
So the “Bank” guy, charged with clearing the property (during) foreclosure, (illegal), sold the trailer illegally. So, because it has a VIN and I am still the registered owner, they and I have to jump through a bunch of hoops, so they can either scrap it or auction it off.
So, the other three vehicles, ( 2 4Runners and a Hilti pickup) will show up eventually.
So much for “The Bank” adhering to the law.
I really don’t care about petty crime, because white collar crime sucks 10,000 times more money from people.
@West of the Rockies: Curious, did you read the post up top?
@trollhattan: I’d love to develop my two disc golf courses on 17 acres just outside of Ann Arbor with tiny houses to scale placed in beautiful spots. Because of the egalitarian nature of disc golf I know many sometimes unhoused people and wish I could help more.
Late to the thread, but thanks for this, TaMara. 😊
Way late to this thread, but in fairness – I can’t believe I’m saying this, because I am actually all for Polis’s efforts regarding the overhaul of land use regulation – there are other considerations to peoples’ objections besides NIMBYISM. Water availability and sewage/septic capacity being the most salient, imho.