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Tiny homes are trendy. Could they also help the homeless?

Story image for Tiny Homes from Sacramento Bee

Allen Warren is thinking small when it comes to housing affordability.

The Sacramento city councilman and residential real estate developer is planning to build a new housing community in his north-area district featuring 50 “tiny homes” – detached dwellings ranging from 240 to 500 square feet with prices starting at just over $100,000.

“This will be one of the most affordable new housing communities in California,” Warren said of the project that he’s tentatively calling Tiny Town.

Unlike the quirky tiny homes that are mobile and showcased on cable TV shows, these will be permanently located on concrete slabs on a 2.5-acre parcel on Rio Linda Boulevard. Plans call for a community building and a park at the center of the complex ringed by the 50 houses.

None of the homes will have garages and residents will be encouraged to use public transit and bicycles that will be included with the purchase of each residence, Warren said.

Warren, whose New Faze Development company is currently at work on several more-conventional residential projects, said he was motivated to address the severe shortage of affordable for-sale and rental housing in the area.

Those drawn to the project could include “working people, new college graduates, even teachers,” Warren said, but added that the prices could be low enough to lure some currently homeless families.

“You’d be surprised at how many homeless people have incomes,” he said, but still can’t get living quarters because of resistance from landlords and because of spiraling housing costs.

Though the project is not aimed specifically at the homeless, Warren said it could serve as a model for public initiatives aimed at serving that population.

Joan Burke, director of advocacy for the Loaves & Fishes homeless assistance group, said she was pleased to hear about the project, noting that tiny homes are a “very practical way” to provide affordable hosing for the homeless and others with limited incomes.