The “tiny house” movement continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Many young people are looking at the large houses of their youth and have decided they don’t need this much space. They are getting creative and living in spaces that are a fraction of the size of typical homes.
These people are also looking to repurpose old material to build homes. Things like shipping containers have been adapted and converted into living space. In reusing old material, homeowners can minimize their impact on the environment and make their homes more sustainable.
This whole movement is an effort to get people to question just what they need and what kind of lifestyle they want to lead. The tiny house movement is a rejection of ostentatious consumption in exchange for a more compact and sustainable lifestyle.
One California man is taking that idea and putting it to work to help the homeless. He’s seeking to give these men and women a permanent place to live, empowering them with homes of their own. And he’s using a very unexpected building material.
TK Devine had inspiration for his home because he himself has been homeless in Los Angeles for the last four years. He has been living out of his truck, intentionally choosing not to spend money on rent or a mortgage. One day he was using a porta-potty and was inspired to create a domicile.
So he began converting porta-potties into homes for the homeless population in LA. The ones he’s using are a bit larger than the typical porta-potty because they are made for people with disabilities. These homes are large enough to satisfy a person’s basic needs.
The home contains a fold-up bed that is roughly the size of a twin bed. It also has a small table that folds down from the wall. For heating up food, a person can use a hot plate or a camping stove. A small refrigerator can also fit inside the unit. Devine is 6’1″ and can comfortably relax in this home.
The biggest change is that the toilet is removed from the unit, with a second porta-potty attached in the back. With these two units, a person has a full apartment with a private bathroom. It’s not a lot of space, but it’s enough to protect someone from the elements while giving them a measure of privacy.
Devine acknowledges that these homes would only be temporary, but it may be enough to help someone transition from the streets to a permanent home. The porta-potty home gives someone a place where they can shower and hang up a suit for job interviews along with an address to put on a resume or job application. These are basic things that many of us take for granted but that can pose obstacles for homeless people searching for work.
Innovations like these will be vital in the 21st century. As our population continues to grow and housing becomes more scarce, tiny homes and converted spaces will be necessary to meet our housing needs. And if tiny, converted spaces can be used to end chronic homelessness, all the better.