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