When people hear the phrase “economic security,” an immediate association is made of vast amounts of cash, or a bank account with 7 digits on the good side of the decimal. A million dollars isn’t what it used to be. When I hear the term “economic security,” I think in terms of food, water, shelter, opportunities, education, public health and safety, and strong social institutions. This is what “economic security” and “the wealth of nations” looks like, not a briefcase full of paper.
Our tiny home is one of a growing number of such dwellings that have been designed for mobility, durability, aesthetics, and customized for the habits, needs, and lifestyle of the occupants. The Modular housing model will indeed be making an economic impact in the near future across a wide demographic range. The next decade promises a growing population who will need end-of-life care, and as we are confronted with the cost of this endeavor, simple dwellings will step into this economic niche in a variety of ways. A spare bedroom can be quickly set up to provide a non-intrusive nurses unit; especially in Alzheimer and Dementia cases where removing a patient from familiar surroundings promotes acceleration of symptoms. Caretakers can live on-site and quickly earn enough money to buy their own tiny home. Many people will choose to provide care to their parents directly, and a tiny house can provide an “instant in-law-unit.”
College Graduates are moving back home at an alarming rate, burdened with vast student debt while entering a competitive job market where labor is exported and undervalued.
Businesses are downsizing their offices, and small business owners need affordable office space; separating business from home-life is important… imagine how easy that could be (and how much gas money you would save) if the driveway is your “business zone.” Artists, writers, artisans, and hobbyists alike already benefit from their tiny backyard sanctuaries.
Community Level Discussions on increasing Urban Density near the transit corridor are dominated by developers, Realtors, and builders. In the meantime, thousands of people are living in overcrowded units. So people are living in illegal dwelling units, some of which are unsafe and many lacking sanitation… but an accessory structure doesn’t attract much attention if it is under 100 sq ft and does not have plumbing or electricity. http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/development/2013/05/san-francisco-likely-has-tens-thousands-people-living-under-stairs Honestly, wouldn’t you rather have people living in your neighbors’ driveway?
We are realizing that a single weather event can displace hundreds of thousands or more individuals within a matter of hours. A well co-ordinated dispatch of housing, complete with supplies can be trucked in within days; providing immediate relief to those displaced, as well as short term accommodations for aid-workers and those concerned with rebuilding. Climate Scientists have been warning of increased frequency of severe weather events. You should get a tax-break for building a tiny house and keeping it in your driveway… so long as you register it with fema and agree to dispatch it in the event of a natural disaster. Hasn’t America been defined in terms of our response to national tragedy over the last couple decades? What could be more American than having an emergency shelter in your driveway?
So .. on a personal level… I am pretty confident I have embarked on a lifestyle that will enable me to pay down my personal debts, as well as pay down my personal ecological debt to any children Candace and I may or may not have one day. Either way, aren’t all the kids our kids? Do we have the right to borrow against their economic and ecological future?
I guess that depends on values. Maybe you believe that our kids will enjoy a higher standard of living than we could ever dream… Personally, I tend to think our children will have to learn to make do with less, and I am not eager to take more than my fair share at their expense. No matter what you do, just stop taking it for granted… admit that every act of meeting the economic needs of 7 billion on this planet is an unsustainable act.
I’m now grateful for every damn ice cream bar I eat, and every piece of fruit that travels thousands of miles to be ripe on my plate. My personal values have shifted from the material, and my life goals have shifted to “living a long time” which means my priorities are a good diet, and a healthy lifestyle… other than the Camel Filters… anyway.
We (we bay area folk) are truly reaping all of the spoils of empire, and I for one won’t allow myself one second of guilt for enjoying so much while so many people have so little. But… when you put what we have now in perspective of what humans have over the course of history, and will have over the course of the uncertain future ahead… All I can feel is gratitude. So I smoke my cigarettes and drink my wine and boy do they taste sweet… I eat a hamburger and I drink my dairy and I enjoy the variety of goods on the marketplace that have come to the shelves in a store near me and it all is a bit sweeter to me than most… because I truly appreciate the long-term cost that is incurred.
I’m getting ranty now, so I’m going to have to drop off and think of a way to explain how simple shelters can be leveraged to tackle huge social problems that we are faced with, such as homelessness, veterans programs, illegal foreclosures, and a criminal justice system that could only be described as a system in crisis.
Part Three: Tiny Homes for Social Well-Being.