Living small: The prospects for tiny houses as a solution for affordable housing in Vancouver

Tiny house villages trending across the U.S. and in Abbotsford

Other tiny house villages for the homeless are springing up across the US, and are in various stage of development. Community First! in Austin Texas is already under construction and hopes to open in April, reaching full occupancy in two years. Foundations for Tomorrow’s project in Huntsville, Ala. is negotiating with the city for zoning, and raising funds to buy land. Tiny Houses Greensboro in North Carolina has built a prototype, and is looking for ways to acquire land. And the same people behind Opportunity Village are creating a second site called Emerald Village, which is still fundraising.

Across the border in Canada, there’s the village proposed by the Abbotsford Dignatarian Society (ADS), inspired by Dignity Village. The ADS wants to build forty tiny houses made from recyclable materials on a nine-acre lot 1.2 miles—or a 20 minute bus-ride—from downtown Abbotsford. The property belongs to two of the organization’s members.

The tiny houses will be built as 96 square-foot insolated, heated cabins. They won’t have bathrooms or kitchens, as these amenities will be shared, just like they are at Dignity Village. Jeff Gruban, ADS’s director says they also “envisioned having an area where service providers could come in and use it as an office, or a nurse could come in and take care of the people on a monthly basis.”

As it stands, the ADS is still waiting to hear back from city council on its application for a temporary use permit. But neighbors are already protesting the proposed site. They’ve filed a petition with the city against the project, objecting to the distance residents will have to travel to access valuable services. Dignity and Quixote are also on the outskirts of their respective cities, and have addressed this problem by providing bus tickets to residents. Gruban doesn’t put much merit in their objections: “You have to remember that all the issues … brought up by the petition are red herrings. Those people don’t care about any of those issues that they brought up, and quite frankly I don’t think they care about the homeless. All they’re concerned about is ‘I don’t want that next to me’.”

If the village is successful, Gruban hopes they’ll be able to introduce a phase II and invite tiny homeowners to join the community. They could even teach people—including those ready to transition out of the supported housing—to build their own tiny homes.