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Tiny homes being built in Madison

By Dannika Lewis,
Published On: Jul 03 2013 06:17:57 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 03 2013 08:32:46 PM CDT

Most people have living rooms twice the size of these tiny homes.

The members of Occupy Madison are constructing the first of these small shelters, which is already spoken for. The couple that will own it at the end of the month have to put in 100 hours of work and pay the cost of materials back over time.

Steve Burns works for Madison College as a math teacher, but in during his summer, he’s running the shop where the homes are made. He said the structure, which includes a kitchen, storage space, and a compost toilet, is only 98 square feet.

“It's for people at this point might be living in a tent or not have, so people aren't moving from a 5,000-square foot house into tiny house,” Burns explained. “They're moving up into a tiny house.”

The idea is based on other cities’ success with the small-scale homes. Places like Olympia, Wash., and Portland, Ore., have supported the concept and have communities of 30-40 homes.

“It's a proper housing. It's safe housing. It's what we heard that people wanted,” Burns said.

At this point, there is no permanent spot for this tiny home town in Madison. Homeless advocate Brenda Konkel said they can’t establish such a space without a change to the city’s zoning code.

“In order for us to do anything, we're going to need some sort of change, or go outside the city of Madison,” Konkel said.

Until their search for a location is complete, Konkel said the tiny homes will be built on mobile trailers and moved along Madison streets every 48 hours. While the situation isn’t optimal, Konkel said a secure place to call home is better than the current option of camping out.

“If we spend $12,000 on camping, that would be it and it would be done, but we would have nothing to show for it. If we spend $12,000 on tiny homes, we're building something for people to have a future,” Konkel said.

“This is an effort to build something that would be acceptable, that is good enough,” Burns said.

Burns said the group hopes to have the first home finished by the end of the month.

A call to the Mayor Paul Soglin’s office on the tiny house concept went unreturned Wednesday.

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