Build Small Live Large Summit Speaker Andrew Heben, author of Tent City Urbanism

Who’s Using Tiny Houses to Aid Homeless Populations?

Build Small Live Large Summit Speaker Andrew Heben, author of Tent City Urbanism

Tent City Urbanism! Photo via Andrew Heben.

Little houses have piqued America’s interest as an antidote to the McMansion-style housing boom, but they’ve also become an intriguing option for providing affordable temporary and transitional housing for the homeless. One true expert on this trend is Andrew Heben, Build Small Live Large speaker and author of Tent City Urbanism: From Self Organized Camps to Tiny House Villages.

Here’s how Andrew explains his book:

“Tent City Urbanism explores the intersection of the “tiny house movement” and tent cities organized by the homeless to present an accessible and sustainable housing paradigm that can improve the quality of life for everyone.

While tent cities tend to evoke either sympathy or disgust, the author finds such informal settlements actually address many of the shortfalls of more formal responses to homelessness. Tent cities often exemplify self-management, direct democracy, tolerance, mutual aid, and resourceful strategies for living with less. This book presents a vision for how cities can constructively build upon these positive dynamics rather than continuing to seek evictions and pay the high costs of policing homelessness.

Build Small Live Large speaker Andrew Heben, author of Tent City Urbanism

Room for overlap and collaboration. Photo via Andrew Heben.

The tiny house village provides a path forward to transitional and affordable housing within the grasp of a local community. It offers a bottom-up approach to the provision of shelter that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable—both for the individual and the city. The concept was first pioneered by Portland’s Dignity Village, and has since been re-imagined by Eugene’s Opportunity Village and Olympia’s Quixote Village. Now this innovative model has emerged from the Northwest to inspire projects in Madison, Austin, and Ithaca, and is being pursued by advocacy groups throughout the country.”

Build Small Live Large is excited to have Andrew as a panelist on our Affordable Tiny House Communities Incubator session, along with Timothy Ransom, the Board President of Panza/Quixote Village in Olympia. Check out Andrew’s sites Tent City Urbanism and The Village Collaborative for tons of great content on this positive trend for small housing and social justice.

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