Monday, July 22, 2013

What's After the Transitional Village?

Two routes with two organizations ready to implement them.

In order for a homeless camp to progress to a sanctioned village, it will almost certainly need to be defined as transitional, meaning residents are staying there temporarily until they can find a more permanent living situation.  This is especially true if it is to be hosted on public land.  But where are they to transition to?

The way I see it, there are two primary means for someone to transition out: a secured source of income or a relationship with a land owner.  I'll tackle the latter first.

Relocating a micro-housing unit from the transitional village to the backyard of a private residence can be an ideal solution. The transitional village model emphasizes collaboration between the unhoused and the housed, which can lead to relationships where this type of agreement can come to fruition.  In addition to providing someone a more permanent living situation, this would also increase the density of our single-family neighborhoods, promoting a more village-like environment. 

Backyard Bungalows is a design-build firm developing structures with this in mind.  The micro-housing they are designing for Opportunity Village is very compact (60-80 sq. ft.) and composed of modular 4'x8' panels that are interchangeable.  With a more stable site, more panels can easily be added to make a larger, more comfortable living space.
A 180 sq. ft. bungalow designed and built by
 Backyard Bungalows

It's unrealistic, though, to think everyone is going to run into that sweet of a deal.  Consequently, I believe we must make this type of housing more readily available - through the creation of affordable villages.  This would be an alternative take on affordable housing similar to how the transitional village is an alternative take on transitional housing.

Once it becomes financially feasible, a resident could relocate their home, earned through sweat equity, to a more permanent village setting where they would pay a modest rent.  Again, the transitional village model improves conditions by encouraging relationships that can lead to local jobs that would make this progression possible.

Since this would be the next step away from homelessness, it would likely offer more stable community with a higher quality of life standard.  Structures could even be upgraded to more elaborate tiny houses, or "second settlers," and the old structures could cycle back to the transitional village.

The Village Collaborative is a new initiative with the intent of planning and designing this type of housing opportunity.  By rethinking our standard of living in a more human-scaled perspective, we can create homes and communities that are more attainable and fulfilling. 

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