The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

February 26, 2014

Tiny houses help address nation's homeless problem

(Continued)

"I think a lot of them we can work through. I think there is some ways we can be a real asset to the neighborhood," she said.

The group has already built one house that's occupied by a couple and parked on the street. A volunteer moves it every 24 or 48 hours as required by city ordinances.

The house, which cost about $5,000, fits a double bed with overhead storage, a small table and a small room with a compostable toilet. There's no plumbing or electricity, but the home is insulated and has a propane heater to get the residents through the harsh Wisconsin winters.

Organizers want to eventually add solar panels.

Morgan, who has struggled with a spinal cord surgery, alcohol addiction and unemployment, lives in a trailer provided by OM Build. He hopes to work as a cook again.

"My goal is to go back to that and get my own place, but it's really nice to have this to fall back on," he said.

The tiny house effort in Eugene, Ore., sprung up after the city shut down an Occupy encampment that turned into a tent city for the homeless. Andrew Heben and others worked with the city, which provided them with land for the project.

Opportunity Village Eugene opened in September with little resistance, said Heben, 26, who is on the board of directors. Most of the nine huts, which are 60 square feet, and 21 bungalows, which are 64 square feet and 80 square feet, are already built.

Thirty people are living in them now, and he expects 40 to 45 residents ultimately. The houses don't have electricity, water, bathrooms, showers or kitchens, but separate shared buildings do.

They've done it all for less than $100,000, which is about half the median home price in Eugene, all from private donors with no taxpayer money. He said the story has changed from how tent cities were a problem in America to how the community is banding together.

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