Homeless Tiny House for the Homeless

Students at Emily Carr University of Art and Design designed and built a 144 square-foot house intended to be used as a shelter for a the homeless on Bowen Island. Sadly the local zoning & planning folks are still sorting out zoning and liability issues – making this house for the homeless, homeless. It currently sits in a parking lot on Granville Island and needs to be moved soon.

Here are some ideas for how and where to move it. These may not work in this case, but for other folks it might work fine.

  • Find an existing homeless shelter with space outside to set it up and manage. Theoretically the city may be more likely to approve it if an existing organization were to adopt and manage it.
  • Put wheels under it and call it a micro manufactured home. This would at least give the local planning folks a definition they understand to work with.
  • Don’t use it initially as a house but instead a classroom for continuing education for the homeless.
  • Find someone willing to add it as a Secondary Suite. We call them Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) in the US – or more commonly in-law units or granny flats. These are additional dwellings (attached or detached) on the same lot as a single family home.
  • Find an apartment complex that already works with homeless agencies willing to set it up as an additional unit – assuming the planning folks are cool with that.

Finding a place to place/park tiny houses can be tough. Each community has different rules. In some places tiny houses are perfectly legal but these tend to be rural locations – not always, but often. In other areas tiny houses are poorly understood and current rules originating from the IBC (International Building Code) prevent them from being used simply due to their size.

The ideas listed above suggest ways the existing rules could be used to allow this house to find a home.

Read more about this tiny house at The Vancouver Sun.

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