OPINION: Homelessness, Thinking Small
Homelessness, Thinking Small
By Trevor K. McNeil
T’was Ever Thus
Homelessness as a social issue is far from new. A problem that has existed for millennia, whether it as acknowledge or not, came to wide, social attention during the late 19th through the pioneering of the likes of Charles Dickens and the Pre-Raphaelite painter William Holman Hunt. Now, as then, one of the biggest issues perpetuating homelessness is lack of public and political will. Are logistics an issue, yes, though really nothing that can’t be addressed with some strategic planning. Cuba certainly has its downsides but at least everyone has somewhere to live.
The decadence of the 1980s, cleaved to so strongly in the 1990s came into sharp focus in the early 2000s, particularly in the sub-prime mortgage crisis. A case of designed obsolescence for short-term gain, as opposed to an unforeseen tragedy. The 2008 recession was the net result of the fraudulent tactics used by the financial sector for decades, finally reaching the heights where they collapsed. Society finally realizing that the system, as it was, was no longer tenable. Even if the perpetrators of the crises were largely “punished” with early retirement including lucrative pension schemes.
Dollars and Sense
Even with the echoes of the 2008 recession still echoing in the ears of many, the issue of homelessness goes far beyond resources. It would be insane to argue that housing prices haven’t gone up. They have but a fact that very few, especially those who make fortunes from it, want to admit is that it largely imaginary. The ‘housing market’ is based mostly on the ‘interest rate.’ A largely arbitrary and most imaginary measure of future values, most ‘futures traders’ having no more real insight than psychics.
Homes For the Homeless
In terms of cost, both in materials and labor, housing is among the most over-valued commodities, mostly because if it’s relative scarcity. Diamonds and gold have no inherent monetary value, their value stemming from their beauty and the fact they are hard to find. If tin were similarly scarce one would be paying a lot more for a cooking pot. It might seem bizarre but, at an outside, a two-bedroom house can be build in 24 hours for $4,000 with a 3-D printer. Using Habitat For Humanity have been knocking together full, family-sized homes in record time for years.
Do It Yourself
If you are willing to go a bit smaller and use a generator or solar, there are cottages in a box, which are literally small houses that come in an IKEA-style flat-pack, being sold on eBay for $10,000 for those who have their own land which, depending on where you live, is getting cheaper all the time.
Another option for those who own land is to join the tiny house movement. While it has gotten some pretty weird press over the years, this doesn’t always mean living in a converted school bus. It is more than possible to build a smaller, simpler house for not much money. Most jurisdictions have minimums on how big a house needs to be but they usually top out at 500 square feet. And that only applies to what is called the ‘foot-print’ of the structure. Therefore, it would be perfectly within the rules to build a 300 square foot tiny house with a 200 square foot deck.
Live in a city with limited space? There’s a solution for you too! Micro-apartments are the newest trend in the notoriously expensive city of Vancouver, B.C. which has been struggling with it’s own housing crisis for years. Pretty much what they sound like, micro-apartments are very small housing suites, some as small as 500 square feet, in buildings built in the gaps between existing buildings.