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A tiny house at Austin's Community First! Village.
Photo by Celesta Danger

10 tiny house villages for the homeless across the U.S.

Case studies for a trending idea

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A tiny house at Austin's Community First! Village.
| Photo by Photo by Celesta Danger

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been updated with the most recent information.

The tiny houses making headlines today aren’t always the cool new micro dwellings for downsizers and creative nomads. In fact, if you set a Google alert for tiny homes, you’ll see that one topic comes up almost daily: tiny houses for the homeless.

Embracing a strategy of "Housing First"—the idea that addressing homelessness starts with giving folks a place to live—U.S. cities like Dallas, Detroit, and Portland already have micro home communities for the low-income or homeless up and running. New proposals are emerging in towns big and small all the time.

Below, check out an overview of 10 different tiny house villages for the underprivileged that have arisen over the last decade stateside, listed from the newest to oldest. The fact that they involve varying scales, amenities, and operating models suggests that whether tiny houses are a solution to homelessness is a question just as complex as addressing homelessness overall.

Are there initiatives like these happening in your area? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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1. CASS Community Tiny Homes—Detroit, Michigan

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1564 Elmhurst St
Detroit, MI 48206

Who: Local organization CASS Community Social Services, focused on fighting poverty

What: A two-block stretch of 250 to 400-square-foot fully-equipped micro dwellings for the low-income population, including students, seniors, and the formerly homeless; tenants pay rent of between $250 and $400 a month on a rent-to-own model.

Cost: $1.5 million, so far funded by donations from local companies and organizations, including a $400,000 contribution from Ford.

Current status: The first tiny house opened in early September 2016, while the latest batch of six houses were completed in May 2017. The goal is to build 25 homes in total as funding comes in.

2. A Tiny Home for Good—Syracuse, New York

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112-14 Rose Ave
Syracuse, NY 13202

Who: Local non-profit A Tiny Home for Good

What: A growing collection of 300-square-foot houses for people who have faced homelessness, focusing on U.S. veterans. Each house is built on vacant city lot and offers a living area, bed, kitchen, bathroom, and access to a professional care manager; tenants pay rent determined on a sliding scale based on income.

Cost: Each unit cost $28,500 and was primarily built with volunteer labor and donated supplies. The majority of the funding comes from private donations; the rest come from grant support and resident rent (30 percent of a resident’s monthly income).

Current status: Five houses completed to date, with four more slated to break ground in August 2017 and seven more in 2018 if all goes according to plan.

3. Infinity Village—Nashville, Tennessee

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146 Green St
Nashville, TN 37210

Who: Rev. Jeff Obafemi Carr of interfaith group Infinity Fellowship, in collaboration with Dwayne A. Jones, owner of a construction company in Memphis

What: Six colorful 60-square-foot shelters for the homeless, housed at Nashville’s Green Street Church of Christ—each unit can hold a murphy bed, mini-fridge, microwave, hybrid heating/AC.

Cost: $50,000, raised on GoFundMe

Current status: Fundraising to build out “Infinity Center,” a 4,300-square-foot community space geared towards youth and families. The Infinity Village project also served as a model for a similar development at Nashville’s Green St. Church, a project that has received a $120,000 gift from the city.

4. Othello Village—Seattle, Washington

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7544 Martin Luther King Jr Way S
Seattle, WA 98118

Who: The city of Seattle, in collaboration with local non-profit Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI)

What: The third city-authorized homeless encampment hosts 28 96-square-foot tiny houses and 12 tents on platforms, which are intended as a short-term housing solution for up to 100 people. The village shares a kitchen, shower trailer, donation hut, and security booth.

Cost: The city pays about $160,000 per year to supply water, garbage services, and counseling on-site. Donations from individuals, foundations, and other organizations have recently allowed all Othello Village tiny houses to install heat and electricity. Donations to LIHI also fund the materials for the tiny houses, which cost about $2,200 per house; construction is mostly courtesy of volunteers.

Current status: In December 2016, Seattle mayor Ed Murray announced three new homeless encampment sites, two will house up 60 to 70 people in up to 50 tiny houses, while the third will have the same capacity in tents.

5. My Tiny House Project LA—Los Angeles, California

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2202 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90007

Who: My Tiny House Project LA, a non-profit founded by South L.A. resident Elvis Summers

What: Over 40 roughly 50-square-foot micro dwellings for the homeless housed on private property, equippedwith rooftop solar panels, wheels, and a portable camping toilet.

Cost: $100,000 raised via crowdfunding

Current status: 20 new tiny homes are being built on donated land, and a mobile shower unit is under development.

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6. Second Wind Cottages—Newfield, New York

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1435 Elmira Rd
Newfield, NY 14867

Who: Local non-profit Second Wind Cottages

What: Built on donated land, the village of 12 tiny houses so far house homeless men, who will pay rent “as they are able” for as long as they need—each structure includes a bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom.

Cost: About $15,000 per house, completely funded by donations from individuals, businesses, organizations, and fundraising events.

Current status: Working towards a total of 18-19 cottages, plus a larger common building on the site.

7. The Cottages at Hickory Crossing—Dallas, Texas

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1625 S Malcolm X Blvd
Dallas, TX 75226

Who: A host of local social services organizations, spearheaded by the poverty-focused CitySquare.

What: 50 roughly 400-square-foot cottages for the chronically homeless—each dwelling offers a full kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, along with mental and medical health care on site.

Cost: $6.8 million, $2.5 million of which came from the city and county, and the rest from a foundation grant, private donors, and local organizations.

Current status: All 50 homes are completed and occupied.

8. Community First! Village—Austin, Texas

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9301 Hog Eye Rd
Austin, TX 78724

Who: Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a local charity targeting homelessness

What: A 27-acre master-planned village of tiny homes for the disabled, chronically homeless—including 120 micro homes, 100 RVs, and 20 "canvas-sided" homes (tents with concrete foundations). The village offers community amenities like places for worship, gardens, a medical facility, trails, outdoor movie theater, and more; rent is in the range of $200 to $350.

Cost: $14.5 million privately funded—each structure is privately sponsored.

Current status: The village currently hosts around 130 residents and expects to reach full capacity of 250 people by mid-late 2018. Community First was recently awarded a top prize in Engineering News Record’s residential/hospitality category.

@mobileloaves/Instagram

9. Quixote Village—Olympia, Washington

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3350 Mottman Rd SW
Tumwater, WA 98512

Who: Panza, a local non-profit comprising various faith communities

What: A community of 30 tiny dwellings—each measuring 144 square feet—for the homeless, with a shared kitchen, dining area, living room, showers, laundry, offices and meeting space. The over two acre site also includes a vegetable garden.

Cost: $3.05 million in total, at a rate of about $88,000 per unit taking into account donated land and services (detailed breakdown here). Funding came from a mix of state funding, community development grants, and donations from local organizations and individuals.

Current status: The village is currently full, but the organizers are in the process of developing two more similar villages in Washington’s Pierce and Mason counties.

10. Dignity Village—Portland, Oregon

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9401 NE Sunderland Ave
Portland, OR 97211

Who: Dignity Village, a city-sanctioned, self-governed community on city-owned land

What: A village for the homeless comprising 43 tiny dwellings built of recycled or reclaimed materials and equipped with a bed and propane heater—as dictated by the contract with the city, there’s a two-year maximum stay per person.

Cost: Yearly operating costs are roughly $28,000, covered by a $35 a month fee from each resident, as well as micro-business revenues, and private donations.

Current status: Founded in 2000, Dignity Village is the longest-running of its kind and continues to host up to 60 people per night.

1. CASS Community Tiny Homes—Detroit, Michigan

1564 Elmhurst St, Detroit, MI 48206

Who: Local organization CASS Community Social Services, focused on fighting poverty

What: A two-block stretch of 250 to 400-square-foot fully-equipped micro dwellings for the low-income population, including students, seniors, and the formerly homeless; tenants pay rent of between $250 and $400 a month on a rent-to-own model.

Cost: $1.5 million, so far funded by donations from local companies and organizations, including a $400,000 contribution from Ford.

Current status: The first tiny house opened in early September 2016, while the latest batch of six houses were completed in May 2017. The goal is to build 25 homes in total as funding comes in.

1564 Elmhurst St
Detroit, MI 48206

2. A Tiny Home for Good—Syracuse, New York

112-14 Rose Ave, Syracuse, NY 13202

Who: Local non-profit A Tiny Home for Good

What: A growing collection of 300-square-foot houses for people who have faced homelessness, focusing on U.S. veterans. Each house is built on vacant city lot and offers a living area, bed, kitchen, bathroom, and access to a professional care manager; tenants pay rent determined on a sliding scale based on income.

Cost: Each unit cost $28,500 and was primarily built with volunteer labor and donated supplies. The majority of the funding comes from private donations; the rest come from grant support and resident rent (30 percent of a resident’s monthly income).

Current status: Five houses completed to date, with four more slated to break ground in August 2017 and seven more in 2018 if all goes according to plan.

112-14 Rose Ave
Syracuse, NY 13202

3. Infinity Village—Nashville, Tennessee

146 Green St, Nashville, TN 37210

Who: Rev. Jeff Obafemi Carr of interfaith group Infinity Fellowship, in collaboration with Dwayne A. Jones, owner of a construction company in Memphis

What: Six colorful 60-square-foot shelters for the homeless, housed at Nashville’s Green Street Church of Christ—each unit can hold a murphy bed, mini-fridge, microwave, hybrid heating/AC.

Cost: $50,000, raised on GoFundMe

Current status: Fundraising to build out “Infinity Center,” a 4,300-square-foot community space geared towards youth and families. The Infinity Village project also served as a model for a similar development at Nashville’s Green St. Church, a project that has received a $120,000 gift from the city.

146 Green St
Nashville, TN 37210

4. Othello Village—Seattle, Washington

7544 Martin Luther King Jr Way S, Seattle, WA 98118

Who: The city of Seattle, in collaboration with local non-profit Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI)

What: The third city-authorized homeless encampment hosts 28 96-square-foot tiny houses and 12 tents on platforms, which are intended as a short-term housing solution for up to 100 people. The village shares a kitchen, shower trailer, donation hut, and security booth.

Cost: The city pays about $160,000 per year to supply water, garbage services, and counseling on-site. Donations from individuals, foundations, and other organizations have recently allowed all Othello Village tiny houses to install heat and electricity. Donations to LIHI also fund the materials for the tiny houses, which cost about $2,200 per house; construction is mostly courtesy of volunteers.

Current status: In December 2016, Seattle mayor Ed Murray announced three new homeless encampment sites, two will house up 60 to 70 people in up to 50 tiny houses, while the third will have the same capacity in tents.

7544 Martin Luther King Jr Way S
Seattle, WA 98118

5. My Tiny House Project LA—Los Angeles, California

2202 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Who: My Tiny House Project LA, a non-profit founded by South L.A. resident Elvis Summers

What: Over 40 roughly 50-square-foot micro dwellings for the homeless housed on private property, equippedwith rooftop solar panels, wheels, and a portable camping toilet.

Cost: $100,000 raised via crowdfunding

Current status: 20 new tiny homes are being built on donated land, and a mobile shower unit is under development.

2202 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90007

6. Second Wind Cottages—Newfield, New York

1435 Elmira Rd, Newfield, NY 14867

Who: Local non-profit Second Wind Cottages

What: Built on donated land, the village of 12 tiny houses so far house homeless men, who will pay rent “as they are able” for as long as they need—each structure includes a bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom.

Cost: About $15,000 per house, completely funded by donations from individuals, businesses, organizations, and fundraising events.

Current status: Working towards a total of 18-19 cottages, plus a larger common building on the site.

1435 Elmira Rd
Newfield, NY 14867

7. The Cottages at Hickory Crossing—Dallas, Texas

1625 S Malcolm X Blvd, Dallas, TX 75226

Who: A host of local social services organizations, spearheaded by the poverty-focused CitySquare.

What: 50 roughly 400-square-foot cottages for the chronically homeless—each dwelling offers a full kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, along with mental and medical health care on site.

Cost: $6.8 million, $2.5 million of which came from the city and county, and the rest from a foundation grant, private donors, and local organizations.

Current status: All 50 homes are completed and occupied.

1625 S Malcolm X Blvd
Dallas, TX 75226

8. Community First! Village—Austin, Texas

9301 Hog Eye Rd, Austin, TX 78724
@mobileloaves/Instagram

Who: Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a local charity targeting homelessness

What: A 27-acre master-planned village of tiny homes for the disabled, chronically homeless—including 120 micro homes, 100 RVs, and 20 "canvas-sided" homes (tents with concrete foundations). The village offers community amenities like places for worship, gardens, a medical facility, trails, outdoor movie theater, and more; rent is in the range of $200 to $350.

Cost: $14.5 million privately funded—each structure is privately sponsored.

Current status: The village currently hosts around 130 residents and expects to reach full capacity of 250 people by mid-late 2018. Community First was recently awarded a top prize in Engineering News Record’s residential/hospitality category.

9301 Hog Eye Rd
Austin, TX 78724

9. Quixote Village—Olympia, Washington

3350 Mottman Rd SW, Tumwater, WA 98512

Who: Panza, a local non-profit comprising various faith communities

What: A community of 30 tiny dwellings—each measuring 144 square feet—for the homeless, with a shared kitchen, dining area, living room, showers, laundry, offices and meeting space. The over two acre site also includes a vegetable garden.

Cost: $3.05 million in total, at a rate of about $88,000 per unit taking into account donated land and services (detailed breakdown here). Funding came from a mix of state funding, community development grants, and donations from local organizations and individuals.

Current status: The village is currently full, but the organizers are in the process of developing two more similar villages in Washington’s Pierce and Mason counties.

3350 Mottman Rd SW
Tumwater, WA 98512

10. Dignity Village—Portland, Oregon

9401 NE Sunderland Ave, Portland, OR 97211

Who: Dignity Village, a city-sanctioned, self-governed community on city-owned land

What: A village for the homeless comprising 43 tiny dwellings built of recycled or reclaimed materials and equipped with a bed and propane heater—as dictated by the contract with the city, there’s a two-year maximum stay per person.

Cost: Yearly operating costs are roughly $28,000, covered by a $35 a month fee from each resident, as well as micro-business revenues, and private donations.

Current status: Founded in 2000, Dignity Village is the longest-running of its kind and continues to host up to 60 people per night.

9401 NE Sunderland Ave
Portland, OR 97211

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