Are tiny houses in Minnesota’s future?
June 17, 2015 by Blandin Foundation
Even something as small as a parking space could change the direction of somebody’s life. At least that’s the idea behind tiny houses – micro structures being built in communities across the nation to address the issue of rising homelessness.
This month, Minnesota will get its first tiny house.
Built by high schoolers in Willmar, with mostly donated materials costing about $10,000, this 16-by-8, 128-square-foot house tiny house will travel to St. Cloud this week. It is earmarked for a man named Dave who has been homeless for three years.
The Star Tribune reported yesterday:
After doing concrete work for a decade, Dave was laid off a few years back. He lost his apartment and lived in his car, until he lost that, too. “I’m on foot, now,” he said, pulling down the brim of his baseball cap. “Now it’s just the clothes on my back and toiletries, and that’s about it.”
The idea of tiny houses as a solution to homelessness is not new. Two years ago, we wrote about Rural Studio and their efforts to “thwart homelessness in one rural [Alabama] community.” In the last three years, crops of tiny houses have sprung up in Madison, Wisconsin, Eugene, Oregon, Olympia, Washington and many other places.
In Minnesota, there are still some hurdles to jump before tiny house villages, like ones seen in Madison, Eugene and Olympia, can become a reality. In St. Cloud, there are a variety of building, zoning and health codes that could make finding a space for tiny houses difficult. The city of St. Cloud, though, is open to exploring possibilities.
“We have a homelessness problem here in St. Cloud,” [Matt] Glaesman [city planning director] added, “and it’s a potential solution.”
St. Cloud isn’t the only place experiencing rising homelessness.
Wilder Research, which conducts a homeless count every three years, found 605 homeless people in Central Minnesota in 2012 — a 25 percent jump from 2009. That Minnesota Homeless Study found about half that group in non-shelter locations. The state’s homeless population rose 6 percent over the same period to 10,182; about two-thirds were in the Twin Cities.
In rural Northern Minnesota, homelessness rates have exceeded the state average since 2006, found a 2012 report by KOOTASCA Community Action. Tiny houses, that are sturdy and hold value much better than other low-cost options, could be a fertile solution for Minnesota. What do you think?
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