The definition of a tiny home is a dwelling under 500 square feet built on a trailer chassis. Enthusiasts originally chose this type of dwelling to downsize from a traditional home and lead a simpler life. They could choose to travel or set up camp on someone’s land with a rental agreement.
Now tiny home communities are cropping up around the US for reasons other than downsizing and simplicity. Organizations and out-of-the-box thinkers are using the tiny home idea to create unique living arrangements.
The barriers for creating communities have been building regulations (minimum size), zoning regulations (number of residences on a lot), money to buy land, and amenities. A few persistent folks have been able to work with their municipalities to overcome some of those, and more changes are in the queue.
Creative urban infill
The founders of Boneyard Studios in Washington DC saw an opportunity for urban infill. Unusable or unbuildable lots are wasted space in any city, but the portability of a tiny home makes them functional. It is usually the permanence of a foundation that does not allow building. The tiny home is the perfect solution for affordable housing in an urban setting on otherwise wasted land.
Tiny home enthusiasts are very community oriented. By only owning basic necessities, they are happily forced to seek out others for their needs, such as tools, books, and so on. At Boneyard, the idea is to find what you need outside your home through outdoor activities and community involvement. Shared space at Boneyard includes room for gathering outdoors, a community garden, fruit trees, and a bicycle workshop.
For the homeless
The opposite of downsizing is upsizing, I suppose. For six years, various organizations provided for and supported a tent camp of homeless adults in Olympia WA, Camp Quixote. Eventually a non-profit, Panza, was created to procure funds for a tiny house community for the residents. Last winter, they moved into their new digs. These folks went from nothing to something!
Quixote Village is a series of very basic tiny homes built for this self-governing body of people. There is a communal building with showers, laundry, kitchen, and living and dining space. There is a community garden, and each resident has room for a small garden at their home. Having lived in a community already, the residents understood boundaries, rules and how to get along. They applied those same principles in their new location. The main one is to be clean and sober.
There is a waiting list for Quixote Village. This sort of community is in demand in Washington. That must be true in other communities as well.
A rural setting
I see a communal arrangement on rural land, sort of like the communes of the 60s when people wanted to live more natural and simple lives. They also wanted connection with other like-minded people. A piece of land could hold X number of tiny homes and a common building with a kitchen and living and dining areas. I see a community garden and maybe a cottage industry everyone is engaged in to support the group.
You’d have to find the people first, then together conquer the obstacles of buying the land, zoning regs, building regs, and infrastructure. But judging by what Boneyard Studios and Quixote Village have accomplished, I believe it can be done.
Tiny home communities seem to be a great solution to many urban and rural housing problems.
For more information on tiny home living, check out these sites: