Homeless homes project

Most of the people who participate in the tiny house movement do so by choice – these are the people who have the means to take up more space, but the foresight or good sense not to. Sometimes this desire springs from environmentalism, a wish to occupy less square footage and use fewer resources.  Sometimes the motivation is minimalism and the winnowing of possessions to a manageable few. Never before, however, has the motivation for these small-scale dwellings been this altruistic or the homes quite this small.

(And, not that this is the most important part, but just wait until you see how adorable they are.)

This latest wave of tiny homes is the brainchild of California-based Gregory Kloehn. His appropriately-named Homeless Homes Project has a mission as simple as its name – create unique, portable houses for those who have none to call their own. One by one, Kloehn is doing it, and by repurposing discarded and illegally dumped building materials, he’s doing it for around $100 each.

Homeless homes project
This home utilizes a repurposed dumpster. It even comes with its own stove for cooking.

Imagine the feeling of living on the street for years, bouncing around from shelter to soup kitchen, and being relegated to the sidelines of our society – invisible. Imagine now, the feeling you would get when someone gives you one of these little homes, for free, just because they had the ingenuity to ask if there could be a really simple solution to an incredibly complex problem.

This spirit of challenging the status quo extends to every detail of the project, these houses aren’t just utilitarian, they’re gorgeous. Refreshing, because oftentimes initiatives geared towards street-entrenched individuals seem to forget that they are human,  and therefore just as appreciative and deserving of beauty in their lives as anyone else.

Looking at the houses is like playing a strange game of hide and seek where common household items appear in odd places. Washing machine doors take on a second life as windows, banisters stand proudly as “porch” columns, and pallets,  the darling of repurposing aficionados everywhere, are taken apart and used to create walls, floors, and frames.

Homeless homes project
One of Kloehn’s inventions which repurposes discarded materials.

One of the most marked benefits of the house’s construction, however, is that they are built on casters. Local safety bylaws in Oakland (and other cities, too) state that city staff must regularly clean up and dispose of the makeshift shelters of homeless citizens. This often means the heartbreaking loss of whatever meager possessions an individual has been able to accumulate. But a tiny home on casters means that the home can simply be rolled to a different location, no mess left behind.

By marrying the fine art of repurposing and the innovative creativity of the tiny house movement, the Homeless Homes Project creates safe, stable and secure spaces for those who have lacked them for years. No excess waste, no bank-breaking price tag.

Welcome home.

Imagery courtesy of Gregory Kloehn

By Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.