County commissioner proposes tiny homes for the homeless
Published January 4th, 2016
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Tiny homes for the homeless are popping up in cities all over the country. Alachua County commissioner Robert "Hutch" Hutchinson says he wants to open the discussion on transitional housing here in Gainesville.
And that includes - tiny homes - built for the homeless.
"I've seen tiny house communities in other places, NY and Massachusetts, it's very interesting. And what they will do is cluster them on to a very, very small lot," says Hutchinson. He's proposing dedicated lots in Gainesville on which the county would build 4 to six small 120 square foot houses. But this proposal is in its early stages, and many questions remain unanswered.
"One issue is the house design itself," says Hutchinson. "We have people in this community who have built tiny houses and other designers who are working on tiny house plans." Another issue: could the county afford to finance the project, including potentially complicated utility hook-ups for a community limited to tiny houses. The houses can cost from five thousand to ten thousand dollars to build.
"How do we get people in to good shelter perhaps in tiny shelters and how do we justify it and how do we pay for it," says Hutchinson. "And how do our fee structures account for it and it's an interesting problem that many communities are working on and we are looking to see the best practices in other places."
And some homeless residents at Dignity Village say that transitional housing may be a good option for them."They don't get enough money or whatever," says Dale Mabb, who has lived in Dignity Village for a year and a half. "Like me I get a bit out of SSI but I can't afford going out and getting me a place right now."
Commissioner Hutchinson says he hopes this idea opens up new discussion on affordable housing solutions. "Some people rent a storage unit and lock themselves in at night," says Hutchinson. "They don't necessarily have the sanitary facilities but at least it's a place and it's secure there's a lot of ways to think about tiny homes; We just need to do a better job of making them available"
Commissioner Hutchinson plans to bring his proposal forward at the housing diversity and transitional housing options meeting on February 16th. "In the 8-hours that we are actually in their talking, someone can build a tiny house outside,"
He says exploring ideas like this one build on Gainesville's reputation for experimentation and innovation.
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