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Resurrecting a Village: Tiny Homes for the Homeless


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Let’s go back to the late 60’s, the Civil Rights Movement was at the forefront of the much needed understanding that people of color deserve the same rights as white people. Unfortunately, systemic racism is still a major issue today, people are still having their lives and family members taken away due to a judgement based on the color of their skin. Although still existent, killing people because of their skin color is no longer collectively accepted as the norm, yet there are still many things that white people are unconscious of when it comes to the privilege they have over people of color today.

What we are generally not taught in school about the Civil Rights Movement is the amount of true power we the people have. Many people did and do not know that the Civil Rights Movement was about more than racism, it was about dismantling all forms of oppression. Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference lead a campaign during the Civil Rights Movement, called The Poor People’s Campaign.

The Poor People’s Campaign demanded economic rights for people of all backgrounds. After large groups began organizing to demand justice in Washington, they set-up a 3,000 person tent-city right on the Washington Mall. This establishment was named Resurrection City, it survived for six weeks, and even gained its own zip code, until police tear-gassed and dismantled it entirely. The Poor People’s Campaign was enacted due to the War on Poverty; the effort to marginalize, colonize and oppress poor people and people of color through criminalizing their existence and systemically making it harder for them to thrive and become successful. The efforts to make changing this was clouded by the priority to end the Vietnam War.

Dr. King stated, “We believe the highest patriotism demands the ending of the war and the opening of a bloodless war to final victory over racism and poverty.” All three demands, were important to Dr. King and enveloped the entirety of what the Civil Rights Movement stood for: to end the war, to end racism and to end poverty.

On October 25th, 2015, an active group called Denver Homeless Out Loud tried to recreate Resurrection City on a plot of land that once hosted a community garden that was being dismantled because the land was sold to private developers. This land was owned and sold by the Denver Housing Authority (DHA)—a publicly funded, privately owned entity whose mission includes to provide affordable housing to people. Denver Homeless Out Loud named this the Resurrection Village. Instead of building a tent-city, people came together and setup a Tiny Home Village on this land. They constructed nifty Conestoga Huts and other makeshift shelters that were more adequate than just tents, in an effort to show people how easy, cheap and quick it is to provide people a form of shelter.

For some backstory, I must explain that most affordable housing is still unaffordable for many people. Low-income housing is 0-30 percent Area Median Income (AMI), whereas “affordable” housing is typically 80 percent or above of AMI, this is sometimes called workforce housing. So even if they were to provide the 10 percent of affordable housing that they are required to provide through the inclusionary housing ordinance, there would still be many people without homes.

A cost analysis of Dignity Village, (a Tiny Home community in Portland, OR.) shows the difference. Dignity Village is a self-governing community of some sixty people at any given time, all of whom contribute weekly “sweat equity” to help run the village. Many of these individuals—a such as couples without children, or people with pets—were unable to find housing or assistance within the traditional shelter models before coming to Dignity Village:

PROGRAM TYPE  
Tiny Home Community (Dignity Village)        $4.28 Quixote Village (Olympia, WA)      $87,500
Warming Center       $12.59 Community First (Austin, TX)      $30,000
Emergency Shelter       $20.92 Second Wind Cottages (Newfield, NY)      $12,000
Rent Assistance       $24.60 OM Village (Madison, WI)      $5,000
Supportive Housing       $32.37 Community Supported Shelters (Eugene, OR)      $1,000
Motel Voucher       $54.00 Little Denver?      $???
Transitional Housing       $66.56    
Prison cost (in Colorado)       $83.22    

 

Providing actual homes for people is proven to be more adequate than allocating resources towards large jail-like temporary shelters, disingenuous services that may not even be needed, and criminalizing people for existing in public spaces, which is exactly what is going on today. This is part of the Homeless Industrial Complex, a systematic establishment of keeping people oppressed in order for funds to remain allocated to certain areas, usually to areas that are already in rich capital, instead of equally allocating it to those in need, for what they truly need.
Please consider looking into the Tiny Home Movement as an effort to combine the much needed effort to pursue social and environmental justice. Food is a human right, yet we must have money to buy it. A home is a human right, yet we must have money to get one. Why are human rights restricted to capital? Sounds like modern-day slavery to me. Let’s create our own natural infrastructures and live with the natural systems of Earth, in harmony, instead of continuing to destroy our collective home with deforestation and greenhouse gases caused by the pursuit to maintain the industrial complexes of capital hierarchy. Let’s stop working for a greedy man’s capital dream and start working for yourself and the Earth together, in your own way, utilizing your own skills and ideas.

Where do you get these numbers from?

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