I worked in social services for over twenty years and have visited all sorts of houses; houses of donors so sprawling I got lost trying to find the bathroom and houses in the hood so shabby the wind whistled up through the cracks in the floor boards.
Look, you gotta have a roof over your head; we humans are fairly fragile in regard to the range of temperatures in which we can survive; never mind thrive. So the dozen homeless folks I saw living under the bridge downtown bothered me. Does a bridge count as a roof? Cars whizzing across night and day…but at least it keeps the rain off, I guess. By the time I went back to check on them the city had moved them to some tents in a field: out of sight, out of mind.
An Occupy group in Madison, Wisconsin built a village of Tiny Houses for homeless people. Tiny Houses are adorable and they do the trick. Way to go, Madison Occupy. Besides that, tiny houses are a better idea than the cement bee hives the government built to solve the housing problem back in the old days.
Alternative housing may be the domain of rebels and old hippies, but I think it may enter the mainstream someday. People have always looked around and used what was available to construct a shelter: sticks and banana leaves, mud and branches, bones and hides. No more. We have building codes to stop people building their own shelters! Why do we have building codes?
Mostly to protect the construction business, partly to protect property owners. I mean, what are we? Mumbai? We want over-priced, inefficient McMansions and if your credit score isn’t up to snuff or you think a couple hundred thousand is an absurd price to pay for flimsy, glitzy stick structures-well, you can just go live under a bridge.
Shelters can be built of hay bales, packed earth, aluminum cans, and foam. Yes, foam, like the mushroom domes in Japan-cozy, cheap and earthquake-proof. Or how about a yurt? Genghis Khan lived in one and took over the world. If you look into alternative housing you will find that America is about the worst place on earth to try to build any, because getting an exemption to the building code is as frustrating as toting water in a sieve.
Yet, some people have pulled it off. I hope many more will in the future.
Bad enough Mother Earth has somehow become private property; now they don’t even want you to do what humans have been doing for millenia-figure out a creative way to put a roof over your head.