When Mark Denning saw the frame of his new home for the first time earlier this month, the chronically homeless Amarillo man started to sob. “I’m getting my life back,” Denning told the Amarillo Globe-News. But there was something different about his home-to-be: it’s tiny. Denning’s new home is part of a new movement across Texas in which “tiny homes” are being used to house the homeless.
The benefits of housing the homeless in tiny homes are manifold: they’re cheap and quick to construct, aesthetically quaint, environmentally friendly, and save cities tens of thousands of dollars with each person who gets to live in one. Thanks to donations and volunteers, Denning’s home in Amarillo will cost just $2,000 for Yellow City Community Outreach, the non-profit organization building his tiny abode. According to the Globe-News, this is the first of many tiny homes Yellow City hopes to build in Amarillo.
Texas’s tiny-homes-for-the-homeless trend appears to have started in Austin, where an organization called Mobile Loaves & Fishes began construction on a 27-acre community of tiny homes in 2014. Now, the 140-home community seems like a true shining city on a hill, albeit a miniature one. The homes are about 180-square feet, and rent is as low as $225 per month. It’s a communal experience, with shared bathrooms and a large kitchen and dining space (though some of the tiny homes have their own bathroom and kitchen). There’s an outdoor movie theater run by Alamo Drafthouse, and a brand new medical center opened within the community late last month. About 80 residents have moved into the community since January, and Mobile Loaves & Fishes expects to reach its full capacity of 250 residents by mid-to-late-2017.