I've recently been involved in the formation of a new non-profit—the American Tiny House Association. Here's our introductory press release:
March 25, 2015 – Tiny house advocates are harnessing the exponential rise in popularity of tiny houses by forming a new nonprofit organization, the American Tiny House Association. The mission of the association is to promote the tiny house as a viable, formally acceptable dwelling option for a wide variety of people. Its goal is to support tiny house enthusiasts who are seeking creative and affordable housing as part of a more sustainable lifestyle.
The board pulls from a broad base of experience:
• President William Rockhill is a tiny house builder whose family run company, Bear Creek Carpentry, has been operating in the Adirondacks since 1991 and has over 40 years of carpentry experience.
• Vice President Robert Reed directs the Urban Sustainability Practice for Southface, an organization that works with consumers, the construction and development industry, and policymakers to forge market-based solutions for creating green jobs, clean energy solutions and sustainable communities.
• Treasurer Elizabeth Roberts is an attorney for Atlanta Code Enforcement.
• Secretary Elaine Walker is a blogger at Tiny House Community.
• Director Andrew Heben has a background in urban planning and is the author of Tent City Urbanism: From Self-Organized Camps to Tiny House Villages. Heben co-founded Opportunity Village Eugene (OVE), a non-profit organization with a mission of creating self-managed communities of low-cost tiny houses for those in need of housing.
The purposes of the association are as follows:
• to gather and provide information regarding the building of and dwelling in tiny houses
• to promote a healthy social and political environment conducive to tiny house building and dwelling
• to educate members regarding tiny house quality and safety, and
• to network and cooperate with related government agencies, educational institutions, development organizations, and private industry to address these stated purposes.
While zoning regulations and building codes have limited the formal acceptance of tiny houses to date, Walker says she anticipates regulatory changes in the coming years will allow tiny houses in urban alleys and suburban backyards, enabling tiny houses to tie into existing utilities, and tiny house dwellers to benefit from public transportation. According to Walker, “tiny houses can provide wonderful accommodations for teens, college students, and aging parents, in addition to single adults and couples who want more freedom and less debt.”
Heben added that the tiny house has also emerged as an innovative approach for addressing our nation’s housing affordability and homelessness crises. “Half of all U.S. renters are currently facing a housing cost burden,” says Heben, “and tiny houses offer the return of a simpler, more sustainable housing option.”
The association has state chapter leaders that will work with local zoning and coding officials to understand how regulations can be modified to accommodate tiny houses.
Members of the association seek to make the world more tiny house friendly, to make it possible to build their own tiny homes and find a legal place to live. Says Reed, “The people and passion that this movement attracts, I think, represent a fundamental shift in the American Dream. People today are looking beyond their home choice as a status symbol; people in the tiny house movement want flexibility to pursue the wide array of
Rockhill brings a builder's perspective, noting that “we all must keep safety as a primary concern not only for the occupants of a tiny house, but also for the firefighters, EMS and police who may have to respond to a call for help. My concern is for the individual builders who need someone in their corner, to look at it from their point of view.....on a budget....minimal tools.....working out in the elements......and trying to make a living while building their own house. I understand all these factors, as well as the fierce independence and striving for freedom, the desire to build it their way, on their terms.....I will work to keep things fair, to listen to all views, to try and reach a happy medium amicably.”
Tiny house enthusiasts can join the association by going to the website.