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The Case for Tiny Homes


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The Case for Tiny Homes - I researched and presented this at Fairfield County's Community Foundation on February 4, 2015. Local leaders that specialize in affordable housing attended the presentation and we then held a Q&A session.

The Case for Tiny Homes

  1. 1. Alison Riith Tiny Home Presentation 2/4/15 1 Case for Tiny Homes  Housing costs are very high in Fairfield County – barrier for young people  Even if you can afford rent and live independently, the goal of buying a house in this area can feel far out or reach  Many young people are moving away o I’m 27 and a lot of my peers went out of state for college and stayed there o I’m one of the few that went out of state and then moved back  This is a big problem for keeping young people in this area.  Tiny home movement is becoming popular in other parts of the country.  These are communities where individuals design and build their own small homes - some are micro-homes of 100-200 sq. feet and others are small cottages of 400-800 sq. ft. o Anything under 1000 sq. ft. is considered a “tiny home”  Many of the homes are built with reclaimed/sustainable materials and are eco-friendly, some are made from traditional materials, and some are built by re-purposing things like shipping containers. o Some tiny homes are built over a foundation and others are put on wheels and then become portable.  There are many workshops and seminars that are being held around the country where people can learn to build their own tiny home. Tiny homes are significantly less expensive than traditional homes and some of the very small ones can be built for $20,000-$50,000.  This is requires a departure from the traditional mode of thinking – “bigger is better” or that achieving success means acquiring “status symbols” like a big house with a big mortgage.  By offering this as an alternative housing solution, we can keep young people in Fairfield County and offer a path to home ownership  Difference between tiny home ownership and traditional “affordable housing” is the ownership piece that I think will help to create community.  This is an alternative to paying extremely high rent prices every month or taking on a huge mortgage.  My dream is to build a small neighborhood of tiny homes in Fairfield County with features that encourage community – for example, a community garden.  I believe that encouraging young people to design, build, and own their own tiny homes will lead to more young people choosing to build their careers and lives here  Tiny Living: environmental consciousness, self-sufficiency, sound fiscal plans, life simplification (source:
  2. 2. Alison Riith Tiny Home Presentation 2/4/15 2 Challenges o Many local zoning laws prevent these types of tiny homes from being built in this area. Typically 500 sq. ft. is the minimum size. As of Aug. 2014 Spur, Texas is believed to be the first place in the U.S> to allow homes smaller than 500 sq. ft. o Spur, Texas o As a result, many tiny homes are currently located in back yard, RV parks, or are (illegally) on privately owned land o One workaround is to build a tiny home on trailers/wheels and register it with the DMV as a recreational vehicle o Cost of land o Deciding where to build – city/suburb or more rural o Financing – both for building and purchasing o Tiny home buyers – risk of small mortgages  Young people – higher risk borrowers due to shorter credit histories/other debts like student loans o Need to partner with a financial institution that would be willing to work with young people and possibly offer a loan product specifically for tiny homes. o Paradigm shift – the idea of choosing to live in a smaller space is contrary to the cultural message that “bigger is better” o Many people may be unfamiliar with this concept – I think we need to introduce this idea to people and conduct further research to see if there really is interest o May be a challenge to get residents in the broader community to embrace it  May be push back from local residents on “affordable housing” units  Concerns about “changing the neighborhood” or driving down property values
  3. 3. Alison Riith Tiny Home Presentation 2/4/15 3 Resources The Tiny Life The Tiny Life is a resource for those seeking information on tiny living which encompasses simple living, tiny houses, and environmentally responsible lifestyles. We seek to provide more than just information on Tiny Houses, we aim to have discussions on Living life…..Tiny! So we refer to our site as a Tiny Lifestyle blog. Tiny House Northeast TINY HOUSES, OFFICES, HOBBY SPACES & COMMERCE DESIGN- BUILD. TINY HOUSE BUILDERS FOR NEW ENGLAND: NH, MA, ME, VT, CT, RI & UPPER NY STATE Tiny – The Movie One couple’s attempt to build a Tiny House with no building experience raises questions about sustainability, good design, and the changing American Dream. Tiny House Conference Annual conference where people gather to learn how to plan and build their own tiny homes 2015 – Portland, OR Tumbleweed Tiny House Company go#cypress2 Offers “House to go” models and 23 different floor plans for tiny homes and cottages Tiny House Connecticut Facebook community for people in CT looking to network, share knowledge and best practices in building, creating and dreaming their tiny houses. Share information and resources about workshops, meetups, etc.
  4. 4. Alison Riith Tiny Home Presentation 2/4/15 4 Other Models Boneyard Studios – Washington, DC Showcase of 3 tiny homes that model what an urban tiny home community could look like. Portland, Oregon San Francisco, California Seattle, Washington Boston, MA Boise, Idaho Spur, Texas First “Tiny Home Friendly” town in the US Madison, Connecticut Dud’s Village – seasonal cottages Utilities are only on April-November Village Association w/ dues adAPT, New York City Design competition in NYC – tiny apartments RFP from the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development Micro apartments of 275 to 300 sq. ft were selected by Mayor Bloomberg 335 East 27th Street Focused on households of 1 -2 people to keep young professionals living in Manhattan