Community looks to use efficient tiny homes to address veteran homelessness

Community looks to use efficient tiny homes to address veteran homelessness

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Looking to help combat veteran homelessness, students, educators and leaders in Monterey County, Calif., hope to create a village of net-zero energy tiny houses.  

But when Monterey Peninsula College’s Green Building Design course participants present their collection of tiny house village designs for the Veterans Transition Center at Fort Ord in Marina, it will launch a broader dialogue for confronting not only homelessness, but also the affordable housing shortage in the county, reports the Monterey County Herald.

A Tiny House Village at the Veterans Transition Center in Marina would provide more housing for vets near the services they receive with the organization, and the VA-DoD Clinic close by, and could become a reality for the Veterans Transition Center by the end of 2018, officials said.

A tiny house is a custom-built, small dwelling unit built on a trailer to enable portability and flexibility, according to the “Tiny House Manual.” The tiny house movement is an architectural design trend advocating a simplified, energy efficient and flexible lifestyle.

Tiny house communities already exist in New York, Wisconsin, Texas and Washington and have begun to take root in California cities like San Jose, San Diego and Fresno.

A zero-net tiny house is designed for self-sufficiency in electrical power, water and other resources that allows for a portable off-grid lifestyle.

Labor for the Tiny House Village program comes from students, homeless vets and Monterey County Jail inmates using donated materials and grant funding to build the structures and are being built in different locations by a mix of the populations it will help.

The cost for each is about $25,000 and the homes are about 400 square feet using smaller, more efficient spaces designed to be off-the-grid.

Located in the Hayes Circle area of the former Army base, the pilot program could see three to four designs that can be integrated into the existing community of housing for veterans who are going through the Veterans Transition Center program.

This Tiny House Village project will give vets the tools they need to help themselves by including them in learning basic construction skills, providing practical application of those skills to build homes for themselves and others in their community, and supply them with bankable knowledge and skill sets for real-world jobs.

Kurt Schake, executive director of the Veterans Transition Center, told the Monterey County Herald that Marina needs to be OK with the pilot program, and that verbally the city likes the idea as it presents a viable solution to the affordable housing crisis and chronic homelessness in Monterey County. 

Agreements between the city and the Veterans Transition Center would have to be formalized before the village could be designated as a temporary or permanent site.

The long-range goal of the pilot program is to educate city leaders and the community of the benefits of a Tiny House Village.

Thomas Rettenwender, principal architect at Ecologic Architects in Carmel, Calif., said that when trying to find solutions to the current housing crisis, many turn to a tiny house. The smaller size, lower reliance on site infrastructure and the ability to “do-it-yourself” are factors that can contribute to cost savings.


Topics: Building Green, Cost of Ownership, Sustainability Trends & Statistics, Sustainable Communities

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