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The Issues -- Minimum Standards



I have a friend who recently was a homeless person. One day when he visited me he took a great interest in my woodshed. He remarked that he could live quite comfortably in a building this size. This inspired the first of the three accessory houses described below, a 10x12 micro-house, almost a challenge to live in, but containing all the necessities of life. Such a structure is an answer to a prayer for someone who has had to adapt to living in a dumpster or under a bridge. Let's remember the context we are dealing with. These aren't intended to be vacation cottages, but a minimum basic living unit in which a person can live in simple dignity, comfort and security.

There is obviously a great need for living units of this size, because many people are currently living in even smaller and far less desirable living units, such as cardboard boxes, plastic bags, parts of abandoned buildings, sewer tunnels, or at the high end, in cabins built without permits, all of which are presently illegal living spaces.

Living in a small house in a small area at small cost is clearly a better alternative to being left homeless. Actually, many people are already living this way but find themselves operating totally outside of the "system", because the "system" chooses to refuse them this option. I know of many such dwellings that exist in my community right now. They are solving a particular problem for particular people at a particular time in their lives. These people usually live in fear of being discovered by a building inspector. Why not acknowledge that this need exists? Why are these not legal? Sometimes it seems as if some lifestyles may have been overlooked in our race to organize our society. I would like to see some change in our rules to allow a style of living that does not usurp a lot of fertile land, consume a lot of energy or pressure people to incur mortgages greater than they can afford for houses that are larger than they need or want, because those houses conform to the national norm and are the only options available.

In our study of basic housing we have developed the following list of recommended minimum standards necessary for a quality living environment:

  1. Shelter from the elements.
  2. Personal security.
  3. Space for the preparation and consumption of food.
  4. Provision for personal hygiene.
  5. Sanitary facilities for relieving one's self.
  6. Secure storage for one's possessions.
The following items, while not essential, we consider important for quality of life:
  1. Place for trash receptacles.
  2. Space for one to relax and socialize.
  3. An outdoor area for a small yard or garden


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ProHousing Main Page The Issues Zoning & Planning
Minimum Standards Local & Global
Solution Scenarios Accessory Dwelling Garage House Scattered Density Shared House Owner-Built House
Recommendations Ongoing Research Links
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ProHousing - Copyright 1991, 1999 by Ron Konzak
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