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Mad Housers

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.