What do you get when you combine tiny houses with big hearts?
One happy neighbourhood, that’s what. A new community made up of miniature, 98-square foot homes was officially opened this weekend in Wisconsin. But unlike other neighbourhoods, this one was built by the homeless, for the homeless.
It all started with Occupy Madison, a group that formed in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. Like most of its sister protests, this one had a large encampment that attracted many homeless. Once these impoverished people started settling in, however, they felt a sense of security and community as they finally had a safe place to sleep and store their belongings. Members say that as they became more comfortable, the homeless started making connections and helping each other.
But when the camp was eventually closed in 2012, those people suddenly had nowhere to go. And the other members of Occupy Madison simply didn’t feel right about abandoning them.
“We had all these people, about 80 to 100, that were stuck with no place to go. In Madison there’s no legal place to sleep outdoors, and you get 60 to 90 days in the shelter — after that you’re on your own,” Occupy Madison member Luca Clemente told Al Jazeera. “We tried to stay together, we said if we had our own land perhaps we would be able to make a solution out of it.”
So naturally, they got their own land.
Relying entirely on volunteers and donations, the group came up with a plan to buy property around an auto body shop and redevelop it into a tiny neighbourhood. The soon-to-be-not-homeless residents were called in to help design each house to their needs, right down to the design and colour. And the finished products don’t look too shabby either, check out the interiors:
And here they are from the outside:
Four people will move into the first set of three finished homes this week. The next phase of the project will see another six homes open in the spring, along with a laundry facility and community room.
It’s like the old saying goes: Home really is where the heart is.