San Jose To Create Tiny Houses For The Homeless

| © Garry Knight/Flickr
Courtney Holcomb

Although the Silicon Valley has a reputation for being filled with wealthy techies, the area still has a massive number of homeless residents living on the streets, in cars, in encampments, or even on the buses. San Jose, in particular, has come up with a creative way to attempt to help alleviate this problem.
True to its innovative reputation, San Jose has opted to circumvent laws that restrict the building of tiny houses. A piece of legislation was recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown allowing the state to overcome certain building codes in order to create small shelters for the homeless. Rather than being forced to abide by relevant state-wide laws, the city is being held responsible for creating its own regulations surrounding the creation of these shelters.

Downtown San Jose

In order to create the best, most cost-effective designs possible for these houses, the city is hosting a competition to stimulate innovative construction ideas within the community. According to MNN, the single-occupancy shelters ‘must measure at least 70 square feet while standalone shelters for couples must be no less than 120 square feet. Each unit must be insulated, wired for electricity, include at least one lighting fixture… be topped with a weatherproofed roof… [and] include a privacy lock.’

While not a permanent solution for the homeless population in San Jose, this experiment is aiming to provide a relatively stable transitional place for people to live while they wait to be moved into a more permanent living situation. City officials have high hopes for the effect this will have on the community and other major cities in California. In a statement, Assemblywoman Campos announced, “It was huge for the governor to sign this because it’s outside-the-box and no one else has done it. Other big cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles will be looking at what we do here.”

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