There is little affordable housing for our veterans, elderly, college students or homeless here in Nevada county. This is a fact! Even with a voucher for housing, veterans find nothing is available for them. A solution such as a micro-house supportive community would be a very viable solution, yet we still have objections. Here are the typical objections observed:
* If you set up a micro house village, you would draw all kinds of other homeless individuals to this area. We don't want to draw more homeless people here - “if you build it, they will come.”
The truth is most homeless people stay in the area they call home – where they or their families were born, went to school, have friends and know the area. They do not move from place to place as people think. Most of the homeless in our area are 4th or 5th generation Nevada County people. They have been here since childhood and know this as their home – they just don't have a home they can afford having been out of a job or without a stable address for several years.
* “I have to work for a living and I pay my taxes and pay rent. It would be nice for me to be given a free house with no requirements of paying rent or work. Building these micro houses and setting these homeless “freeloaders” up with housing and food etc. is just giving them a free ride. They should just get out and get a job like the rest of us.”
All residents of the Village will be required to pay rent – 30% of their income, which is what most financial counselors suggest be the percentage of income to be used for housing. Those who have no income will be asked to pay rent through “sweat equity” until they are able to find a job or get SSI or disability funding. Many of the chronically homeless people are disabled and mentally unstable as a result of living in uninhabitable living situations for years. According to “Housing First” results (see definition below), individuals will become responsible and productive in the community when they have a lockable and livable space for privacy and security. Also, all residents will invest in the sustainability and beauty of the village by creating and providing cottage industries that will support themselves and the village.
“Housing First” is the mandate of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, an approach that prioritizes permanent supportive housing as quickly as possible to people experiencing homelessness, and then providing voluntary supportive services as needed. This approach respects client choice in both housing selection and in service participation.
* Will this be permanent housing? Are we not then enabling them to continue to be homeless instead of empowering them to transition into more permanent housing in the larger community?
Yes, this will be permanent housing for those who want to live in the supportive community. They will then not be homeless, they will be working and paying rent for their home. This will be empowering them to become responsible and productive members of the community. Because they will have an address and a way to clean up and get assistance with resumes, they will be able to look for and secure jobs outside the village. Those who are too disabled to work a steady job, will be able to work within the village up to 10 - 20 hours a week, in cottage industries set up in the Village.
* I don’t want “those people” in my neighborhood. Not in my back yard, please. (NIMBY) My property values will decrease.
We believe that having a well managed, beautiful, and sustainable community will create more benefits than difficulties. There will be less fire danger, more cleanliness in the community, greater health and more labor ready opportunities for the community. “Those people” are our neighbors and citizens.
* Is the “Tiny House” Village just going to be a “K Mart” version of Habitat for Humanity?
Tiny House Villages are being established around the country as a viable, well planned and beautiful housing solution such as “Housing First” promotes. Cottage housing, such as the Quinn Cottages in Sacramento have been successful for the last 20 years and though the homes are much less expensive and smaller than those built by Habitat for Humanity, they are elegant, beautiful and creative and hold their value.
* Why would there be political opposition to such a plan?
We haven't really heard the reasons why the city and county leaders here hesitate to get behind this idea of providing land and support for such a village. We must present all the plans and details of management of such a village and let the political leaders learn that to house the homeless individuals here will save them more money than they're spending now by not providing housing for these people. We are not asking for money from the county or the cities to do this. We will be presenting these arguments to both City Councils and the Board of Supervisors in the fall.