BY: JESSICA BEUKER
For years a staple of the American dream was the big house in the suburbs. Bigger was better, even as family size continued to shrink. Today, home ownership is still very much seen as the holy grail of success. Although, that dream continues to get pushed further and further away as housing costs rise, working wages remain the same and mounting student loan debt sits on the shoulders of potential home owners. But the ideals of young North Americans are shifting, and subsequently the American dream is slowly changing.
Over the last decade, the tiny house movement has taken many forms. From the tiny house on wheels that accompanies the traveller that just can’t be tied down to one place, to the family that built a remote Alaskan getaway home to escape to when the city life becomes too much to handle. But perhaps one of the best branches of the tiny house movement is the development of tiny house communities.
Tiny house communities have been popping up all over for quite some time now. Aside from the most obvious benefits – lower carbon footprint, cheap rent and a variety of communal spaces such as gardens and activity centres – the best part about tiny house communities is that they bring people together who share one common purpose: to live a meaningful life with less stuff.
Here is a round-up of some of the best tiny house communities in North America.
The POD Initiative
With nearly 4,000 people sleeping on the streets in Portland, Oregon nightly, the city’s homelessness problem is not going away anytime soon. In an effort to alleviate the problem, the Partners on Dwelling (POD) initiative is designing and building a tiny house village for homeless women.
Fourteen distinct designs were created and then built in a warehouse within three weeks. The dwellings meet safety standards – they’re all required to have an operable window, for example – but they’re not required to have bathrooms and kitchens. Portland’s government has even lent a hand in the process, particularly by relaxing building codes, and the mayor has shown his support for the project.
While the project is not yet complete, the final stages revolve around getting approval from the residents, property owners and business owners of the Kenton neighbourhood, where the village is proposed to be built. If it’s successful, it could be the gateway for similar tiny house communities around Portland.
Located in Llano, Texas, Bestie Row is the fitting name given to a line of tiny houses built by four couples who one day decided to ditch their scattered, suburban lifestyles and instead grow old together as friends and neighbours.
Each couple has a 400 sq. ft home, and there is a 1,500 sq. ft community compound, which is used for cooking and parties. The homes are also largely environmentally-friendly, with catchment tanks setup for catching runoff roof water.
Another tiny house village born in Portland, Dignity Village was originally a tent city that arose to protest the treatment of homeless people in the city. In 2003, tiny houses took the place of the tents, providing a more stable and dignified way of living.
In Portland, the lowest rent starts at $700, which is a steep price for those living below the poverty line. In order to meet demand for affordable housing, 23,000 housing units would be needed.
Residents of Dignity Village only pay $200 per month and $25 for utilities. Additionally, drugs and alcohol are prohibited from being used in the community, but marijuana is allowed. Dignity Village is self-governed, which allows the residents to directly have a say in decisions affecting the community.
Community First! Village
Located in Austin, Texas, Community First! Village is a 27-acre community that provides affordable, permanent housing to the disabled, chronically homeless people of Texas.
Community First! Village provides affordable housing options, surrounded by a plethora of community amenities such as community gardens, walking trails, a market, an outdoor movie theatre, places for worship and a medical centre.
Located in Orlando, Florida the lakefront is a tiny home and RV community. The revitalized 1950s RV park allows tiny house dwellers to park legally on their land.
The community itself has 13 tiny houses and 50 spots for lease. Lot leases range from $350 to $550 per month, and although renters are technically considered to be residents of the tiny house community, length of stay is flexible, with weekly and even nightly rates available for those looking to continue on their travels.