Kansas City nonprofit Veterans Community Project has created a 50-unit tiny house village where homeless veterans will be able to live rent free. Food and other necessities will also be provided, and counseling and classes at an outreach center on the next block will help residents get their lives back on track. The village is funded by donations from organizations and individuals (you can make one here), and the VCP seems to be spending the money very wisely. Their cost for each house is only about $10,000, and while they’re neither large nor fancy they do include perfectly serviceable kitchen and bathroom facilities as well as climate control.
Life-changing injuries are never part of the plan, and houses are not in general very wheelchair accessible. That goes double for tiny houses, of course – think lofts, ladders and cramped bathrooms. But after a disabling accident, adding a handicapped-friendly tiny to the yard could be a lot easier than retrofitting an existing residence. There have been a few accessible tiny homes already, like the studio37 prefab and most notably NextDoor Housing’s Drop Home, and now there’s another one: the Wheel Pad.
It’s basically a simplified THOW whose floor area is divided between a sleeping/living area and a giant bathroom able to accommodate a wheelchair. There are no kitchen facilities, because the Wheel Pad is conceptualized as a temporary living solution for new wheelchair users who will have assistance from family or friends while making the transition. In fact, there’s a provision to connect the unit to a larger house to make that easier.
The prototype Wheel Pad in the photos is called the Norwich Model after Vermont military college Norwich University, whose students and professors helped out with the build. It was designed by Joseph Cincotta of LineSync Architecture and will be made available free to area residents in need (an application can be found here).
Future units will be marketed by a company called Wheel Pad L3C for sale at $50,000 or lease at $1,500 per month. They hope to help out wounded veterans and other newly disabled people while also benefiting the southern Vermont economy by providing jobs at an employee owned factory.
Portland’s Dignity Village is an intentional community with a number of tiny houses – but it’s also a homeless encampment, and there aren’t enough real tiny houses to go around. Many residents make do in tents or shacks, and that’s what Ray Broaddus, 56, had been doing since he moved there three years ago. His jerry-rigged dwelling couldn’t keep the rats out, though, and he was on the waiting list for a more solidly built tiny house. He was actually assigned one last year, but when it arrived it turned out to be a loft model. Because of a stroke, Ray can’t do any climbing, so the house ended up going to someone else.
As of August 5, 2016, Ray has a home of his own, thanks to 17-year-old Henry Morissette and the volunteerism requirements of his school, Oregon Episcopal. Henry, who’s going to be a senior this year, needed to do a certain amount of volunteer work to graduate. He decided to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Ted, 20, who’d built a tiny house for another Dignity Village resident last year. Ted helped on this project as well, as did Henry’s 16-year-old younger brother Jack and a few of his classmates.
The 120-square-foot house they built is now sitting on concrete blocks in the village, keeping Ray warmer, drier and rat-free – and making everyone involved happy to have had a part in helping out:
“I’m just really glad. I never thought I could help as much as I did.” – Henry Morissette
“I’m super happy.” – Ted Morissette
“When I saw the guy… getting the house, it made me feel really great.” – Jack Morissette
Ray’s pretty pleased, too:
“The kids are awesome. It feels good. It feels really good.”
While there’ve been a couple of popular tiny house documentaries – TINY: A Story About Living Small and Small Is Beautiful – Michel Gondry’s Microbe & Gasoline seems to be the first feature film to feature a tiny house as a prominent plot element. The story of the French-language movie focuses on two high school misfits whose nicknames form its title. Gasoline’s an amateur mechanic and has put together a rattletrap vehicle for a planned summer road trip; when it’s pointed out that his creation isn’t exactly street legal, the pair decide to disguise it as a tiny house on wheels. Microbe & Gasoline was released last year in France, where it didn’t do too well despite getting fairly good reviews (it’s rated 75% on Metacritic and 90% on Rotten Tomatoes). However, it’s now on limited release in the US, hoping to find a bigger audience in a country with a stronger tiny house community.
One of the best parts of building your own home is catering the design to your personal needs, but with limited space, a tiny house doesn’t always provide endless options to accommodate your every wish. Yet even with a small footprint, plenty of folks find creative ways to embed their own unique touch into the layout, and as you’ll see below, they can be pretty darn creative!
1. The Rooftop Terrace
East Coast Tiny Homes includes a rooftop deck, which adds some extra space to stretch out and relax, maybe even host a small dance party.
For anyone who likes to cook and entertain friends, a solution like this could be a valuable asset in your design. With a fold-out table and panoramic opening, this pass through window serves double duty.
I don’t know about you but the kitchen is one of my favorite, and most important places in the house. A well designed one can make your life so much easier, while a poor design leaves you frustrated and scattered. In a tiny house it becomes especially important to think about the design and layout, from the size of your appliances, to storage for your dishes, gadgets, pots, pans, etc. So below we gathered some of our favorite examples for your inspiration.
Like one of those suckerfish that stick to the backs of sharks, this petit cottage atop a roof in New York City seems to thrive in an unlikely setting. First spotted by George Steinmetz as he was flying in a helicopter over the city, the cottage immediately caught his attention as he thought his eyes must be deceiving him. As he got closer, he realized it was indeed a little slice of country paradise, with gardens, grass, and a peaceful patio to enjoy the city view in a country setting.
The cottage is owned by David Puchkoff and Eileen Stukane, who recruited an architect friend to help create his countryside home in the heart of Manhatten. He started by laying down polyethylene liners to protect the roof from leaking and began rooting 2,200 plants to create a 1,200 square foot green landscape. Total cost of the landscaping was only $1,500 including labor.
She may be young, at just nine years old, but Hailey Fort has a huge heart made of gold. At just five years old she saw a homeless man and asked her mom if she could buy him a sandwich. Her mother approved her request, and today they work together to help those in need. It turns out the man she fed that day also became a friend, and judging by her current path she will have plenty more friends in due time thanks to her continued efforts.
Fort spends her free time building mobile shelters for the homeless, and supplies them food as well, grown from her very own garden. Her goal is to grow 250lbs of food this year, and to build 12 shelters. Thanks to generous donations to her Gofundme campaign, she estimates the cost of each little home at around $300. While you and I might not consider them “homes” per se, these little shelters make a world of difference to those who have only the sidewalk to call home.
At age 5 she noticed a homeless man in her town and asked her mom if she could buy him a sandwich.
She even gardens her own vegetables, and proudly displays her efforts.
She clearly has been instilled with some great values to do what she does.
In her spare time she works to build mobile shelters to donate to the homeless.
“It just doesn’t seem right that there are homeless people. I think everyone should have a place to live”
With help from others who donate to her cause, each shelter costs about $300 to build.
Her parents help with the construction, but Hailey isn’t afraid to swing a hammer or use a power tool, and helps with much of the construction herself.
The completed shelter measures 8′ x 4′ and she uses pallets, plywood, recycled denim insulation and wheels to make them easy to move.
The Works family was fully invested in the American Dream, constantly busy renovating their home and assembling endless amounts of Ikea furniture so they could have a home that looked like it came straight out of Martha Stewart’s Living. But something happened that made them think differently about the luxuries that surrounded them, causing them to wonder if they were in fact luxuries at all. By 2010 Josh and Jessa Works had fallen into a routine many of us know, and life in the ‘burbs didn’t seem all that it was cracked up to be. In fact, it was sucking their souls dry.
Wiser words have rarely been spoken, and the couple decided in 2011 to sell their home and most of their belongings to live a simpler, more deliberate life. Their story sounds dramatic, but when you stop think about it you’ll realize there are tons of families across the country that have done something similar, cashing in the version of the American Dream they were sold for a dream of their own. In their new reality, they decided to travel around the country, visiting 400 national parks in their Airstream travel trailer.
No confines of a 1/4 acre tucked behind a white picket fence here…just pure open sky.
The 27′ Travel Trailer has plenty of room for the whole family, and allows them a far-reaching freedom.
Of course you’re bound to make some friends along the way…
That might include some non-human acquaintances.
The local swimming hole sure looks different than it did yesterday.
Slowing down allows them the priceless time spent together where they can connect with mother nature, who fuels their son’s imagination and provides endless chances for adventure.
And of course the family bond has grown stronger as they share in these awe-inspiring moments together.
For the Works family, home is where the family is.
The family documents their travels on Instagram, where you can find regular updates.
Josh writes, “the interminable routine of bed too late, work too fast, eat too much, see too little has been difficult to interrupt and leaves far too little time for anything truly meaningful, including each other.”
We’re taking a slight detour from tiny houses to share an excellent piece on tiny farming. Just minutes from the sprawling urban landscape of downtown Los Angeles you’ll find the Dervaes family home, where they grow 6,000 lbs of produce on a tiny plot of land in their backyard. Everything they grow is organic and pesticide-free, and they managed to squeeze a remarkable 400+ species of plants into the small plot of land.
They don’t stop at farming fruits and veggies either, managing to fit in a beehive and even a small chicken coop for fresh eggs. This is a great inspiration for anyone who thinks they should plant a few tomatoes in the next few months. Maybe you can do a lot more! Here’s another crazy fact to consider – the Dervaes earned $20,000 from the produce they grew last year. How’s that for self-sufficient?! Check out the video below to learn more and be sure to visit http://urbanhomestead.org/ for loads more info.