HOMELESS ECOVILLE – A SUSTAINABLE VIEW TO ENDING HOMELESSNESS


posted
Categories: Homes / Dwellings

i have spent the majority of my career in the construction industry.  in 1983 i worked for my uncle framing subdivisions during the housing boom in Denver, CO.  i then learned the plumbing trade from my father in Seattle, WA.  he sold his business and bought a hotel in Prescott, AZ, where i spent a few years learning the hotel trade, starting as a desk clerk and ending as Comptroller.  i then moved to North Carolina and started building log homes, eventually becoming a general contractor in Maggie Valley.  i also worked for an electrical contractor on three-phase commercial wiring for a year.  in 1995, i moved to Richmond, VA, where i have worked for different companies as chief estimator, project manager, vice president, and eventually owner of my own design-build class A general contractor business specializing in churches and home renovation/additions.

when the demise of our business started, we seriously looked at our situation to evaluate ‘what would become of us.’  our house, built in 1910, was purchased in 1997 for $69,000 and sits on an approximately .25 acre lot.  over the years i had planted many fruit trees in the yard and i stared to turn the back yard into a garden/orchard.  we currently have apples, peaches, plums, figs, pears, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, mulberries, strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus, potatoes, peanuts, wheat, barley, and many other crops.  we preserve our harvests by canning, freezing, and dryng.  last year we established a ‘share garden’ in the front of our house between the sidewalk and the road for neighbors and strangers who may be too embarrassed to knock on our door for help.

our’s is a work in progress.  there is much to do, but we have been blessed and have all we desire in this life.  the work i do for HomelessEcoVille is my service to my brothers and sisters who are without shelter.  i offer this proposal/plan/idea for any purpose that may help to ease the burden of my many homeless brothers and sisters. 


INTRODUCTION

Homelessness is a persistent problem around the country.  It affects people of all different backgrounds, upbringings, and educational experiences.  The concept of a HomelessEcoVille is born from the desire to help each other by giving ‘a hand up, not a handout.’  By taking a minimalist approach to needs, and assessing what things can be shared in common, we have attempted to look at  how we can help people help and support themselves in community.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, in January of 2014 there were 578,424 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States.   Of that number, 216,197 were people in families, and 362,163 were individuals.  About 15% of the homeless population, or 84,291 people, are considered “chronically homeless” which is defined as someone who has experienced homelessness for a year or longer, or who has experienced at least 4 episodes of homelessness in the last 3 years and has a disability.  About 9% of the homeless population, or 49,933, are veterans.

In an attempt to address this issue, we have looked at ways to provide housing and continued support of homeless people by supplying them with land on which to grow produce and raise small animals for their own use, as well as space for a produce stand/farmer’s market where excess produce and arts and crafts can be sold to cover other costs associated with a HomelessEcoVille and raise funds for future expansions.

In order for a HomelessEcoVille to be successful, location will play an important part.  Transportation to and from a village as well as proximity to the needs of the occupants can be crucial to the lives of the occupants.

Consideration should be given as to the organizational structure of a village as well.  Who owns the village?  Who decides who can stay?  What requirements would need to be in place for occupants to continue to stay in a village?  What oversight from outside a village would be needed, if any?

A HomelessEcoVille can take on many forms.  It could consist of a large house on land where people share common areas of the house but have their own rooms ‘boarding house’ style.  Or, it could consist of tiny houses in different styles and sizes.  The sizes of the houses would vary based on the individual needs of the person or persons to occupy the space, and the general layout and make-up of the entire village.

There are many large houses in cities around the country sitting vacant that could be converted to boarding houses.  Produce needed to support 5 or 6 people can be grown on as little as a 1/4 acre lot.  If the house is situated on a large enough property, it could be joined by a collection of ‘tiny houses’ as well.  For example, there is a 3 bedroom house on 1 acre of land in Kershaw, SC, selling for $29,900.  With this space, 3 or 4 tiny houses can be built and the other 1/2 acre can be converted to an orchard and garden.  If $10,000 is dedicated towards each ‘tiny house’, 9 people can be housed for $70,000, giving them the ability to support themselves moving forward.

This proposal attempts to identify several options for housing and some of the cost considerations of each.  Included is a cost analysis of each model including the takeoffs used and the dollar values used which primarily came from pricing on the Lowe’s website.

The pricing estimates should be used for comparison purposes only and not as an actual estimate for construction.  The models used were from plans available on the internet without consideration as to local conditions or codes.  Each model price is a price for the individual unit itself, so any ‘extra’ material is considered scrap and waste.  If one was to purchase more than one at a time, bulk pricing would come into play.

All concrete pricing is based on purchasing bags of concrete and mixing by hand.  In most cases it is much more cost effective to purchase concrete from a concrete supplier – pre-mixed and delivered to a job site ready to pour.  Likewise, cinderblock pricing is per Lowe’s website which is a per each price and much more expensive than purchasing block by the cube of 90 block.

We have not included any electrical costs, but would offer an initial budget of $750 per unit.  Depending on the local codes, each unit may be required to have its own service and meter base, increasing costs.  The ideal situation would be to treat the homes like cabins at a campground with the main electric supply housed at the main unit or utility building and all other units having their own sub-panels.

Also, labor costs are not included, the idea being that there are many homeless who have the skills to do all of the work that would need to be done, as well as the countless others who would be willing to volunteer their time building these buildings.  Most of the buildings could be completed in as little as two weekends of work.

  Page Turn