Several cities are looking to tiny homes and micro-units as affordable and effective ways to help the homeless, but few have acted on it. Last week, Austin's much anticipated Community First Village opened its gates.
The 27-acre community has more than 135 homes, which include a sleeping area and porch. Community amenities include outdoor kitchens, private bathrooms, showers, laundry, a medical center, an amphitheater, a wood workshop, a chapel, a market, and a communal garden. Rents start at $220 a month and 45 people are already living there. Volunteers at the community expect it to reach capacity by next spring.
People in Austin have embraced the Village's developer Alan Graham, naming him the Austinite of the Year in 2015. However, most cities have not been welcoming of this type of solution for homeless people. Some cities have instead looked to forceful action to take homeless people off the streets.
The idea of forcing homeless people from the streets and into facilities has been taking place across America. In 2015, the city of Colombia, South Carolina, voted to make homelessness a crime. The homeless were given the option to either enter a shelter on the edge of town or be sent to jail. More than 45 cities throughout the country have already made feeding the homeless a crime and some cities, such as Camden, New Jersey, are bulldozing entire homeless encampments.