A non-profit has built a community of tiny homes using trauma-informed design
Across the US, as elsewhere, housing costs are shooting up. Increasingly, people find themselves unable to pay rent, despite in many cases working two or more jobs. In Bozeman, Montana, one non-profit has developed a unique approach to the housing affordability crunch. The Human Resources Development Council (HRDC) has turned to tiny houses in an effort to help the chronically unhoused find accommodation. But the really unique aspect of this project is the way that it embraces trauma-informed designed.
Using funding from the US government-funded Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) Sustainable Communities Initiative, HRDC designed a community of tiny houses, called the Housing First Village. Each house is just 100 to 350 square feet in size, but includes high ceilings to give a sense of space, soundproofing, large windows to let in light, a private bathroom, and a mini-kitchen. The houses are arranged to give some privacy as residents leave their front doors, and there is shared green space and garden plots.
Residents will pay 30 per cent of their income on rent, and the complex includes on-site support for mental health, basic health needs, and financial planning. HDRC argues that this model will not only help the homeless, but will help the municipality save money. Tracy Menuez, a community development director at HDRC, points out that, “It’s kind of a cold economic model: These are the people in your community who are using the most services, and who would benefit the most from being stably housed.”
Tiny homes have existed since at least pioneer times, but they have become even more popular in last few decades as people search for cheaper and more flexible housing options.