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Edgy Labs Prediction Comes True: Detroit Tiny Houses Help Homelessness

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According to the Census Bureau 2015 report on “Characteristics Of New Housing”, over the last 42 years, the average/median size of a new home built in the U.S. has increased by more than 1,000 square feet.

From 1,660 square feet in 1973, the average U.S. house size has increased to 2,687 square feet, despite the reduction in the number of people per household during this same period (from 3.01 to 2.54 persons per household respectively).

If the average living space per person in U.S. households seems to be steadily increasing, there is one surprisingly small yet rising trend in Detroit. We’re talking about tiny homes, of course, whose effects on annual housing reports may be more noticeable in the coming years if the idea really catches on.

And for some U.S. cities like Detroit, the construction of tiny homes is more than an architectural fad. They could provide a response to urgent social, economic, and environmental challenges.

Of course, these houses are not 3D printed, but we still count it as a win for our prediction (read more here) that building small structures could help curb the effect of natural and manmade disasters as well as homelessness.

In Detroit, CCSS Bets on Tiny Homes to Make a big Difference

After having been one of the emblems of the American dream, recent financial crises have crippled Detroit. The city lost its former splendor as it once was the stronghold of the U.S. auto industry and vibrated to the rhythm of soul music.

In 2013, Detroit was the largest U.S. city in history to file for bankruptcy. But now a fresh start seems to be in the works with some recovery demonstrations.

In Detroit’s downtown, there are signs of revival with several projects with aesthetics that seem to be catering more to high-income residents and tourists than the low-income population.

It dropped from 40% in 2015 to 35.7% in 2016, but Detroit still had the highest poverty rate among American big cities. The most recent count totals 2,078 homeless individuals, both sheltered and unsheltered, in the Michigan metropolis.

Cass Community Social Services is a Detroit-based non-profit organization that, since 2002, has been running several programs in the city’s poor area providing shelters, food, healthcare, jobs, and housing to those less fortunate.

Seeking to offer decent and affordable housing and fight homelessness, CCSS launched the Tiny Homes project in an attempt to help low-income people accrue wealth, own their own homes, and contribute to Detroit’s recovery.

Rent Then own Tiny Home Under $450/Month

CCSS has already built a batch of 7 tiny homes in the fall of 2016, and earlier this month, the ground was broken on another batch of 5 tiny homes.

The CCSS is getting closer to its first goal of a community of 25 tiny homes that cost less than $45,000 USD each, thanks to donations, sponsors, and volunteers, with no government aid.

Ranging in size from 23-37 sq meters (250 to 400 sq. ft.), CCSS tiny homes include amenities such as a kitchen, heating and cooling, and washer and dryer units.

At a dollar per square foot per month, these tiny would cost between 250 and 400 dollars per month, and after 7 years renters would be legal homeowners.

“There is no mortgage, there is no other payment, it’s meant to make sure once they get the home, they are able to keep it,” said Reverend Faith Fowler, a pastor at the Cass Community United Methodist Church and Cass’ executive director.

Although traditionally built, this project shows a real-world application of tiny houses for housing crises issues like disaster relief and homelessness. If CCSS were to consider additive manufacturing in the future, they could lower prices and build them far faster.