GA city plans to build tiny house community for homeless

Dive Brief:

  • The Savannah-Chatham Homeless Authority in Savannah, GA, is turning to tiny houses to help solve the community's homeless problem, WJCL-TV reported.
  • The authority purchased a $208,000 parcel of land  near active homeless camps  where it will build 72 tiny houses, and an estimated 240 homeless veterans will get the first shot at entering the lottery to determine who will live there.
  • This was the third piece of land the authority considered but marked the first purchase that did not face objections from neighbors.

Dive Insight:

The authority said it aims to eventually consolidate the city's estimated 4,000 homeless people, currently spread among 36 makeshift camps, into this tiny house development and one large camp to be developed in the future. The authority, which said it most likely will break ground this fall and have 12 houses ready by spring, must now raise construction funds, estimated at $7,000 per house.

The idea of tiny house developments has drawn national interest, but it seems to also inspire a NIMBY attitude among some if that development includes a low-income component — a situation occurring with a proposed tiny house development in Florida. A developer in Tallahassee, FL, has been met with resistance from neighbors since announcing his plans for an $8 million tiny house development geared toward low-income individuals. Critics, many of whom live in a neighboring development, cited the developer's association with a homeless shelter in Tallahassee and said crime and other undesirable behavior plagued that facility's surrounding neighborhood, and that they now fear their own neighborhood will become unsafe if the development is realized.

On the other hand, some municipalities have recently embraced the tiny house movement by easing up on a major obstacle to its wider adoption  zoning. Washington, DC, revised its accessory dwelling unit regulations so that many homeowners in the DC suburbs can now build tiny houses in their backyards. Housing advocates said this change should help ease the pressure of 1,000 new residents moving to Washington, DC, every month.

In another major zoning breakthrough for tiny houses, Pima County, AZ, officials announced plans to allow tiny houses with a foundation to be built anywhere that people are permitted to build a single-family home. The new regulation also relaxes the building code requirements for the small structures in aspects that are not deemed necessary for a tiny house, such as egress.  

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Filed Under: Residential Building Legal/Regulation
Top image credit: Sprout Tiny Homes