Tiny House Movement: A Solution to Homelessness?

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Micro-living, or, the tiny house movement, has been sweeping the nation. Homeowners trying to leave a minimal carbon footprint have build and purchased small houses designed to meet all their basic needs without any of the excess. In the midst of the fashionable trend, another practical purpose in the movement has revealed itself. Is it possible that these tiny homes could be the key to eradicating homelessness?

tiny-house-movement 1

History

Tiny house villages are popping up across the country. These villages aren’t just a collection of people who have drank the micro-living kool-aid; these are assemblies of people who are in tiny houses to help give them the boost they need to get back on their feet.

Homeless communities are assembling in tiny house villages share in common both goals and kitchen spaces. To understand this new trend, it’s important to look back at the nationwide movements that led to this.

The first idea that lent itself to the Tiny House Village concept is the Tent City idea that began all the way back in the Great Depression. Groups of homeless would gather with their tents and sleeping bags in unused city lots, by rivers, or wherever else they could safely gather for an extended period of time. This movement picked up again after the housing crash in 2007, and was simulated for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The latter influence is the Tiny House movement. 2014 saw record awareness of the micro-living concept, with everything from an award-winning documentary to breakout blogs and books. The homes are usually less than 500 square feet, and developed primarily as a counter-culture concept to avoid ridiculous real estate costs and ecological excesses.

The combination of these two ideas allowed for homeless groups to gather for safety and community in numbers, while still giving individual residents the privacy of their own space to sleep and spiritually and mentally center.

Tiny houses are quickly becoming the only option for lower-class Americans who don’t want to sleep under a bridge every night. The idea of single room occupancy housing, similar to a boarding house – has all but died off because construction on new homes exists solely for the middle class expectations. Most of the country would turn their noses at the idea of shared kitchens or bathrooms, so such housing simply isn’t built anymore.

Other cheap-but-permanent housing options are also becoming unaffordable (or simply impractical) due to federal regulations on building structures. Tiny houses however, since they are not founded into the ground, exempt themselves from most of the government regulations.

TINY house movement opportunity village

How They Operate

Sometimes a charitable company or a non-profit will found and monitor tiny house villages, but it’s becoming more common than not for the communities to be completely self-governed by the homeless residents themselves. This precedent was set by successful communities like Dignity Village, just outside of Portland, OR. This self-governed operation keeps tiny house villages from turning into Hoovervilles.

The villages all have certain expectations for the residents and standards for the community. There is usually a small rent that has to be paid for a spot on the lot, usually around $25 a month. The residents often have to be on lists for permanent housing and government aid, to show proof that they’re trying to find more fiscally responsible solutions to their living situations. They’re usually required to be actively working, not just looking for work. Whether it’s construction or a part-time gig, they have to have some sort of income while they look for whatever is next.

There are many other regulations that vary from village to village. The idea behind each stipulation is that it will create a revolving door atmosphere in the community, where there is a proven track record of people finding success through the stability of the tiny house neighborhoods.

Some of these micro living villages look like scrap yards. They are filled with shacks, all thrown together to accommodate the number of residences. These serve all the functions of giving individuals privacy and space, while keeping costs and regulations low to be manageable for whatever circumstances.

Other villages – with a few more regulations – look like a Desperate Housewife’s dream come true. The tiny houses are evenly spaced, with micro-front porches and small, green lawns. They just happen to be on along the fence of an industrial factory or in an area prone to flooding.

TINY house movement Quixote Village

Do They Work?

Andrew Heben is the founder of the blog, Tent City Urbanism, and authored a book by the same name. The content is all about micro living in big metros. Heben has been studying the trend for years, and says that these villages are not just a passing trend. “They’re an early example of something that’s coming,” as environmental and economic concerns are forcing Americans to reevaluate their cost of living. “People see that a lot of us will be living like this in the future.”

The micro living movement has been growing. And the whole time, advocates for the concept have been saying the lifestyle will go from fashionable to commonplace – and even necessary. With each passing month, the idea has proven more and more accurate.

In this light, tiny houses are not just a way to alleviate homelessness – they are a way to prevent homelessness.

So are tiny houses actually effective in getting struggling Americans back on their feet? Success stories at the existing villages have proven that the reduced fear and stress that comes with homelessness will indeed lead to better chances of finding permanent employment and eventually housing.

Even just having an actual physical address to print on job applications can make a world of different in the career search.

These tiny house villages provide a home base for people that wouldn’t otherwise have one. They serve as a reset button for people who have stumbled upon hard times.

The success rates are obviously not 100% for these communities. The natures of the villages attracts a lot of the handicaps that are unfortunately associated with homelessness. There is a high population of individuals with mental illness in these villages, as well as other things that hold people back from success in different fields. This is not a problem so much with the tiny house movement, but with the homelessness crisis in general.

There is also the issue that many metros with the biggest homeless populations simply lack the ability to host a tiny house village. When the cost of land is too high, the low cost of housing doesn’t make much of a difference. Areas like New York and Silicon Valley simply don’t lend themselves to this modern tent community.

There are many big cities, however, with tiny house villages just outside the city borders. Los Angeles may not have many villages, but surrounding areas like Ventura and Santa Clarita have a strong presence. If you’re interested in a map of all the recorded tiny house villages, click here.

TINY house movement communal yurt

The Big Picture

2014 was a great year for tiny homes and the micro living movement. Luckily, this doesn’t appear to be a trend that’s going away with the calendar year. It’s a growing movement that is gaining momentum as more and more practical implications come to light. The idea was popularized for its ecological and economic implications, but now it will clearly play a pivotal role in a global issue that plays a role in all aspects of the human race.

More and more people believe the tiny house movement is the future. This new facet of the revolution could be its most significant contribution yet. The purpose of real estate is the same now as it ever was; real estate provides shelter, security, and a sense of accomplishment. The appearance of real estate, however, is evolving in new and exciting ways to include everyone for the betterment of our ultimate home – this planet and each other.

To Read More About the Tiny House Movement:

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Treasure Map to Home: Financially Ready to Buy a House

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Real estate is likely the biggest investment you’ll ever make, but it shouldn’t have to break the bank. This infographic shows how to make financially responsible decisions in the home-buying process. If you’re financially ready to buy a house, you can have a mortgage and still protect your booty!

Treasure-Your-Home

 

1. Save Money

Orient yourself by saving 10% of every paycheck for a house before you start the buying process.

2. Budget

A budget based on income and savings will be your anchor. If possible, pay all cash for real estate.

3. Get Pre-Approved

If you can’t pay cash, find a lender to approve a loan. A 15-year mortgage is more responsible than a 30-year.

4. Find an Agent

Hire someone you can trust and who understands your financial limits.

5. House Hunt

Finally, the fun part! Stay under budget to leave room for closing costs, repairs, etc.

6. Make an Offer

Keep in mind, your down payment should be at least 20% of the cost of the home.

7. Inspections 

You don’t want to purchase a treasure that turns out to be cursed!

8. Insurance

Protecting your new treasure may cost a pretty penny, but it could save a fortune down the road.

This infographic inspired by Dave Ramsey Financial Freedom teachings.

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6 DIY Oscar Party Ideas

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The Academy Awards – taking place Sunday, February 22 – are an elegant night to honor excellence in cinema. They’re also an excuse to throw a party and drink wine and champagne! Here are some creative DIY projects to help you throw the perfect Oscar party! These ideas were accumulated from around the web and feature links to blogs with more details about the project.

 

 1. Paparazzi and Red Carpet

Roll out the red carpet – literally – on the way into the house. Even if it’s just a long strip of cloth, people will feel like Hollywood royalty. Up your game even farther by using craft paper to cut out silhouettes of paparazzi to line the hallways on the way in.

oscar party 1

Pinterest

Picture Courtesy of: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/43417583881886654/

 

2. A-List Popcorn Bar

Popcorn is the official snack of cinemas across the world. For a night as glamorous as the Oscars, it’s only right that you amplify the popcorn bar to include every type of variation on the classic possible. Have some caramel corn, kettle corn, butter and salt. Throw in some peanuts, M&Ms, ranch seasoning, and whatever else someone may want to do to achieve that gourmet snack!

Oscar Party 2

My Boys and Their Toys Blog

For more inspiration, visit: http://www.myboysandtheirtoys.com/2014/02/create-oscars-popcorn-bar-movieloverssweeps/

 

3. Tuxedo Champagne Glass

Your Oscar party needs classy beverages, and they should be served in equally elegant glasses. Dazzle your friends with champagne glasses in little tuxedos.

Oscar Party 3

For a step-by-step instructions on how to make these festive glasses, visit: http://celebrationsathomeblog.com/2014/02/diy-mini-bowties-to-dress-up-the-party.html

 

4. Oscars Photo Booth 

Since you’ve already provided red carpet paparazzi, be sure to snap some fabulous photos of your guests with a festive photo booth. Include props of decadence such as bowties, monocles, and more!

TheManicMoose Etsy

TheManicMoose Etsy

For more ideas on what to include, check out: https://www.etsy.com/listing/89524020/photo-booth-props-the-swanky-collection?ref=exp_listing

 

5. Predictions Ballot

No Oscar party is complete without ballots for each attendee to share their hopes and predictions. Be sure to have a prize ready (see #6) for whoever guesses the most categories correctly.

oscar party 5

Download this year’s printable ballot from Fandango: http://www.fandango.com/movie-news/fandangos-printable-oscar-ballot-748790?wssaffid=11841&wssac=123

 

6. Homemade Oscar Statues

These silly gifts make a great party favor or Oscar predicitions prize. You’ll need time to prepare, so paint those Ken dolls with a few days to spare. Mount them on coasters or some other kind of platform with super glue.

DIY Candy

DIY Candy

To learn more about this silly prize, visit: http://diycandy.com/2014/03/diy-oscars-ken-dolls/

 

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Super Bowl Party Ideas

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If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party this year, you’ll need to do some stuff to make yourself stand out. You don’t want to be just a stop on people’s party-hopping excurision. You want to be the talk of the town (ya know, besides the commercials and the game itself). Here are some fun Super Bowl Party ideas to prepare before the big game!

 

Penalty Flag Snack Bag

Better Homes and Gardens

Better Homes and Gardens

Get some yellow napkins (or cloth squares) and put a small portion of candy, pretzels, etc. inside. To make it clear that these are meant to look like penalty flags, you may also want to get some black and white striped napkins (or cloth squares) to set the referee tone at the table. This treat is good for decoration and portion control!

 

Game Plan Buffet Backboard

HouseHunt

HouseHunt

Just take a large chalkboard or a sheet of wood covered in chalkboard paint, and draw the shapes you’d see on a football game plan. X’s, O’s, and arrows! It doesn’t have to make sense, but the decorative element is simple to make and powerful is setting the Game Day theme of your party! Just prop the board behind your buffet table.

 

Football Brownies

Better Homes and Gardens

Better Homes and Gardens

Listen, there’s about a thousand different foods that can easily be turned into football shapes. We just happen to think brownies are the easiest. They’re already the right color, and are easily cut to the right shape.

 

PomPom Vase

Super Bowl Party Ideas 4

HouseHunt

 

A big beautiful flower boquet will look absolutely ridiculous at Super Bowl party. But a flower vase filled with colorful pom-poms will look fun and creative! You can also use it to show what team you’re pulling rooting for that night!

 

Turf Carpet

Home My Design

Home My Design

Okay, so here’s the thing: You’re having a bunch of friends over to eat food, scream at a TV, and encourage drinking. Don’t think for a second your gorgeous home will go unscathed! Be proactive and get your carpet a defensive line. Lay out a roll or two of fake grass. Besides the practical benefits, it’s a fun and colorful way to make your house look like the field.

 

Good luck with all your food prep and party decorations for the big game! Share any of your own ideas in the comments below!

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First Night in New House Checklist [Infographic]

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Plenty of time and effort has to go into a big move, but you also need to be prepared for that first night in your new home. You won’t want to unpack everything the moment you set foot in the door, so here is a checklist of what to keep accessible for the first night in new house!

First Night in New House

The Basics

Don’t forget to pack bedding, pen and paper, work clothes, basic cleaning supplies, and of course a few nice, soft pillows. You’ll want to relax worry-free after a long day of moving.

Emergency

Be prepared for anything. Have the First Aid kit handy, as well as trash bags, a flashlight, and a few tools.  Don’t forget to pack any medications, too.

Food

Let’s be real: all you really need for food is a take-out menu and some plastic plates and silverware to eat stuff with. You’ll also want a bottle of champagne on hand to celebrate the biggest and best investment you’ve ever made!

Children

Don’t forget to pack your kids! Once you’ve done that, make sure you have easy access to their pajamas, basic clothing, games, and a night light. If you’re moving with an infant, don’t… But if you insist, have all the supplies for your little guy like pacifiers and bottles.

Toiletries

For the bathroom, you’ll need all your personal hygiene items, as well as soaps and shampoos. Don’t forget a shower curtain and towels to make bathing possible. And most importantly, don’t pack that toilet paper too far away.

Documents

Just in case, you’ll want to make sure these files are accessible during you move and that first night in new home: HUD statement, other closing papers, and of course your various forms of identification.

Pets

For the pets in your family, you’ll need their animal food, medications, bowls for food and water, and their leashes and collars. Be sure to have some comfort toys ready for them. Those items will give them a sense of familiarity during the move, which is often very stressful for animals.

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