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Huts for the homeless?

I like the sound of this.

A Mad Housers hut

At-Large Position 5 Councilman Jack Christie used Wednesday’s pop-off to pitch an idea to his colleagues: huts for the homeless.

Christie distributed a printout describing small huts built by a group called Mad Housers in the Atlanta area. Christie said he learned about Mad Housers through a friend whose son is in the group.

The structures are 6 feet by 8 feet in the case of huts and 4 feet by 8 feet in the case of “low riders,” which stand only 4 feet high for people who prefer to remain hidden. The huts have sleeping lofts, locking doors and a wood-burning stove.

Christie said after the meeting he intends to explore whether Houston can replicate the Atlanta model.

“You don’t see the sleeping bags out there, the newspapers,” if folks have a small shelter to sleep in instead, Christie said in an interview after the Council meeting. “These have a lock on the door so you have a sense of security.”

He doesn’t contemplate spending big money, or even any money at all on the project. Christie said he hopes he could find donors for the building materials and then recruit Habitat for Humanity or corporate volunteer teams to assemble the units.

I was thinking Habitat for Humanity as I was reading this before I even got to that last sentence. This probably is something that is best suited for a charitable organization, but Council can certainly play a role by working to ensure there aren’t any needless regulatory barriers to such a project. These huts would have to go somewhere, and we’d need to think about where would be best for them. You may recall that the subject of homelessness and making progress against it were in Mayor Parker’s inaugural address, so even if this isn’t what she had in mind, it’s in line with her stated priorities for the next two years. Kudos to CM Christie for taking the initiative here.

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7 Comments

  1. Jules says:

    What problem is this solving? Where are the potties? Showers? Security? Food prep?

    Wood burning stoves – really? Isn’t there still a burn ban in some parks?

    I would hope that Habitat for Humanity would not help out with this. This isn’t fit habitation for humans.

  2. Nick says:

    @jules –
    The problem it’s solving is protection from the elements and safety from theft and assault. Certainly if there was official support – or at least tolerance – of the encampments, then issues such as potties, power, and showers could be addressed.

  3. Jules says:

    Shelter, yes. Safety? How many huts will there be? Where will they be? Will there be 24 hour security? Solidly built homes are broken into all the time. It seems to me it would be pretty easy to break into one of these huts.

  4. Kathleen says:

    I think this is an awesome idea, and it solves a big problem. Currently many cities are trying to outlaw helping the homeless in any way. This is an inexpensive way to help. It won’t hurt. If you get into potties, showers, etc, you get into a lot of expense. Most homeless know where to get showers, etc. They can also go to shelters where they have all the amenities you speak of but many don’t because of assault, theft, or because the majority of homeless are the mentally ill who are off of their meds and a lot of them are afraid to go to shelters for various paranoia reasons (that’s what the remaining hidden comment is about). This would be a great idea where I live in Anchorage, Alaska because one of the biggest problems is homeless people freezing to death in the winter. Yes, we have shelters here, but many freeze to death every winter because they don’t want to go to the shelters.

  5. Kevin says:

    Came here from the Chron.com website, could not figure out how to comment there. I do find it interesting that some people who absolutely hate the existence of homeless people, also want no one to do anything to help the homeless. It’s as if they really enjoy seeing people suffer.

    Housing First is the way to go, it has been proven to successfully get chronically homeless people off the streets, and saves municipalities a bucket load of money.

  6. Jules says:

    I don’t hate the homeless, I just think this particular idea is unworkable.

  7. […] or more previous campaigns has earned him. You can make a similar case for Christie, who made an interesting proposal relating to shelters for homeless people that as far as I know went nowhere and who also said silly […]

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