In case you haven't heard the news yet, Chris will be joining me in Sebastopol, CA on March 4th. While he's here, we're going to take over the local movie theater that night and give folks an advance viewing of a brand-new, not-yet-public, updated but condensed version of The Crash Course.
After the 50-minute viewing, Chris and I will hold an "ask anything" Q&A with the audience.
We'd love to see you there!
On a Saturday in September, more than 125 volunteers showed up with tools in hand and built six new 16-by-20-foot houses for a group of formerly homeless men. It was the beginning of Second Wind Cottages, a tiny-house village for the chronically homeless in the town of Newfield, N.Y., outside of Ithaca.
On January 29, the village officially opened, and its first residents settled in. Each house had cost about $10,000 to build, a fraction of what it would have cost to house the men in a new apartment building.
The project is part of a national movement of tiny-house villages, an alternative approach to housing the homeless that's beginning to catch the interest of national advocates and government housing officials alike."It's certainly something that we would encourage other communities to take a look at," says Lee Jones at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
For many years, it has been tough to find a way to house the homeless. More than 3.5 million people experience homelessness in the United States each year, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. Shortages of low-income housing continue to be a major challenge. For every 100 households of renters in the United States that earn "extremely low income" (30 percent of the median or less), there are only 30 affordable apartments available, according to a 2013 report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
But Second Wind is truly affordable, built by volunteers on seven acres of land donated by Carmen Guidi, the main coordinator of the project and a longtime friend of several of the men who now live there. The retail cost of the materials to build the first six houses was somewhere between $10,000 and $12,000 per house, says Guidi. But many of the building materials were donated, and all of the labor was done in a massive volunteer effort.
"We've raised nearly $100,000 in 100 days," he says, and the number of volunteers has been "in the hundreds, maybe even thousands now."
The village will ultimately include a common house, garden beds, a chicken coop, and 18 single-unit cottages.
"Camp Quixote" becomes a village
"The typical development for extremely low-income housing is trending up toward $200,000 per unit. That's a lot of bills," says Jill Severn, a board member at Panza, a nonprofit organization that sponsors another tiny-house project called Quixote Village. (The organization's name is a play on Sancho Panza, Don Quixote's sidekick in Miguel de Cervantes' classic novel.)
Quixote Village opened in Olympia, Wash., right before Christmas. But it began in February 2007 as "Camp Quixote," a protest held in a city-owned parking lot. A group of homeless people assembled there to oppose an Olympia ordinance that made it illegal to sit, lie down, or sell things within six feet of downtown buildings. When police evicted the campers eight days after the protest began, the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation stepped in to help, offering temporary refuge on their land.For five years, the camp's location rotated, moving and reassembling every 90 days at one of several different local churches. Panza was formed by a corps of volunteers from the faith communities assisting the camp, and the organization worked with the city council to secure and rezone a parcel of county-owned industrial land near a community college and create a permanent site for the village. In December of 2013, the residents of Quixote Village settled into their new homes there.
Quixote Village has fostered a positive relationship between its residents and local government and police, says Severn. Despite this, the project was held up in court for a year by a local organization of businesses and landowners called the Industrial Zoning Preservation Association, which cited concerns over the potential impact on local businesses in a nearby industrial park.
Panza used the time to fundraise and build an outreach campaign to win over the public. They had the support of legions of volunteers, mostly from local churches, who had staffed the camp.
"Having hundreds of [residents] get to know people that were homeless made a huge difference in the success of getting this off the ground," says Severn.
Today, the 30 structures that make up Quixote Village are home to 29 disabled adults, almost all of whom qualify as "chronically homeless," by the standards of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.Homelessness in Austin, Texas, costs taxpayers more than $10 million per year.
The residents also have a common space with shared showers, a laundry, garden space, and a kitchen. By sharing these amenities, the community was able to increase the affordability of the project and design a neighborhood they believed would fit their needs and make them more self-sufficient.
The shared space has also helped them create a supportive community. The residents, who are self-governed, have developed a rulebook that prohibits illegal drugs and alcohol on the grounds and requires that each member put in a certain number of service hours per week. They meet twice a week in the evenings to discuss problems or concerns and to share a common meal that they take turns cooking.
The main complaint right now, says Raul Salazar, the village's program manager and only full-time staff member, is that the postal service still hasn't started delivering mail.
The cost of units at Quixote Village is significantly higher than at Second Wind—about $88,000 per unit—but that's still less than half the cost of the average public housing project, according to Nan Roman, president and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Quixote has had access to state funding and local community grants, as well as private funding from individuals, businesses, and two Native American tribes. The project also received a Community Development Block Grant for $604,000 from the State of Washington Department of Commerce and a $1.5-million grant from the Washington State Legislature.
Two architecture and design firms, MSGS Architects and KMB Design Groups, also contributed design services pro bono, and the Thurston County Commission is leasing the land to Quixote for $1 per year.Gaining acceptance
Many other tiny-house projects are just beginning to get of the ground, raise money, find land, and gain approval from local officials and members of the public. But the unorthodox nature of the small houses presents unique legal zoning limitations and barriers that limit where tiny houses can be stationed.
In Madison, Wisc., Occupy Madison has been facing this very challenge, as the group forged ahead with plans for a tiny house village.Each home will be about 99 square feet if you include the porch, and volunteers enjoy the joke: "We are the 99 square feet!"
In the spring of 2011, prior to the launch of the Occupy Wall Street movement, a series of protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol—focused on the state's controversial anti-collective-bargaining bill—prompted additional legislation that prohibited groups from gathering without a permit. When the protests joined forces with Occupy in the fall of 2011, this created a unique opportunity for the voices of the many homeless people in Madison to be heard.
"There were some great moments throughout the Occupy movement where a lot of dialogue was going on between the people without homes and the people with homes," says Allen Barkoff, one of the board members of Occupy Madison, Inc., a nonprofit formed in December 2012 to address the need for legal places where homeless people in Madison could congregate and stay safe. The organization first looked into buying an apartment building or a shared house for the homeless but ultimately settled on tiny houses as the most flexible and economical way to create homes for people.
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In this case, the cost of building the tiny homes comes to around $5,000 each, funded by private donations and an online crowd-funding campaign. The nonprofit also plans to apply for some city grants. Each home will come with a propane heater, a composting toilet, and an 80-watt solar panel array—and will be about 98 square feet in size, 99 if you include the porch. (The volunteers enjoy the joke: "We are the 99 square feet!")
But the question of where the houses can legally be located is still up in the air. Volunteers are now building houses for six people. Because of a recent ordinance change, the houses are allowed to sit on church property in groups of three. City regulations also permit them to be placed on the side of the road, as long as they are relocated every 48 hours. But Madison's snowy winter makes the houses hard to move, explains Barkoff.
Now Occupy Madison, Inc., is in the middle of a lengthy process to purchase a parcel of land on the east side of the city to accommodate 11 houses, along with a central building (a converted gas station) that can serve as a workshop for making more homes. This spring, they will continue to hold neighborhood meetings about the project, talk with police, and work with the Madison Planning and Development Department—and, eventually, the city council—to negotiate zoning issues for the village.The real cost of homelessness
Efforts to break through the red tape and raise money to house the homeless almost always pay off for a community. Even the most expensive tiny-house projects—such as a new, ambitious $6-million campaign to build a 200-person tiny-house park this year in Austin, Texas—can't rival the cost of homelessness to taxpayers, which was more than $10 million per year in Austin, for example, as YES! reported in December 2013."It's a very important step in terms of the kinds of services we should be providing to people that need assistance."
"Chronically homeless people—people who have disabilities and are homeless for long periods of time—can be very expensive to systems of public care," explains Roman. In 2007, the National Alliance to End Homelessness compiled three studies showing that it costs the same or less money to provide permanent housing as it does to allow people to remain homeless. In Denver, Colo., a housing program for the homeless reduced the costs of public services (including medical services, temporary shelter, and costs associated with arrests and incarceration) by an estimated $15,773 per person per year, saving taxpayers thousands of dollars.
Government officials and city planners are beginning to see the tiny-house village as one viable solution for addressing homelessness.
"It's certainly something that we would encourage other communities to take a look at when it comes to creating solutions for housing the chronically homeless," says Lee Jones, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "It's a very important step in terms of the kinds of services we should be providing to people that need assistance."
Currently, the various efforts to house the homeless in tiny-house villages comprise a small and pioneering movement: But each new project helps create lessons and a model for other communities.
For example, Quixote Village, as a recipient of state funding, is considered a "pilot" project: It is required to report its progress to the state legislature in five years. In the meantime, says Severn, the residents will be settling in, putting in garden beds, building a carpentry workshop, searching for jobs, and simply living their lives.
"One of our residents has been homeless for about 25 years," Severn says. "He told me he's excited to start a little rose garden. It really touched me to hear that."
Erika Lundahl wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Erika is a freelance writer living in Seattle.
In this week's Off the Cuff podcast, Chris and Jim discuss:
- What the Ukraine Is Telling US
- Resources are at the heart of coming conflicts
- US Oil Is Back Over $100/Barrel
- The 'Long Emergency' is real
- Age Wars
- Generational friction is on the rise
- The Social Dynamics of the Future
- Why they'll likely feel quite different from today's
When Jerry Paffendorf came to Detroit in 2009 to start LOVELAND Technologies, a software and mapping firm focused on developing tools to democratize access to property information, the city had not yet filed for bankruptcy and Kwame Kilpatrick has just left office. Paffendorf, now 32, had been working in tech startups for several years in DC, Brooklyn and San Francisco after completing a Master of Science in Studies of the Future at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
- Bank deposit notes to get even safer
- The Fed’s a Perpetual Bubble-Maker: David Stockman
- James Lovelock: 'enjoy life while you can: in 20 years global warming will hit the fan'
- Why Google is buying a seemingly crazy collection of companies
- Gold Prices Soar Despite Bearish Reports From Major Banks
- Our Decadent Elites
- Bitcoin Exchange Prices Plummet as Investors Brace for Bankruptcy
- Interest Rate Blues: Emerging Nations Demand Western Support
- Kiev protests: A fight over influence of the West
- Bumblebees infected with honeybee diseases
- target="_blank">Here's Why Foreign Investors Are Trying to Buy American Farmland
- 142 Cities In Brazil Are Now Rationing Water As Drought Goes Critical
- Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale
- Exxon Starts Production at New Malaysia Gas Field
- Water-Cleaning Technology Could Help Farmers
- California drought: Why farmers are 'exporting water' to China
The shift away from car ownership continues unabated.
Across the planet, new technologies and business models are decentralizing power and placing it in the hands of communities and individuals.
"We are seeing technology-driven networks replacing bureacratically-driven hierarchies," says VC and futurist Fred Wilson, speaking on what to expect in the next ten years. View the entire 25-minute video below (it's worth it!) and then check out the 21 innovations below.
There’s a growing trend in the sharing economy toward aggregation. No, this doesn’t mean more mergers, but companies offering competing sharing services are allowing their services to be marketed together in comparison marketplaces. It’s an exciting moment for the sharing economy because it suggests that participants in major parts of it—namely accommodation and transportation—are not only strong enough to hold their own, but want the benefits of being marketed together.
- U.S. Cross-Border Outflow of Capital Hits Highest Since 2009
- Spanish Bad Loans Ratio Rises to Record 13.6 Percent
- Argentina tries to delay $1.3bn repayment to creditors
- Japan fin min official says weak yen no longer directly lifts exports
- Demand for gold in Japan up threefold
- China overtakes India as world’s biggest gold buyer
- Close to half of Americans have more Credit Card Debt than Savings
- Puerto Rico pursues tax evaders amid debt troubles
- Europe Says No Rush on Greek Debt Help, Leaving Samaras in Limbo
- Detroit faces bond challenge in bankruptcy plan
- Federal Reserve confident in economy despite high student debt (Includes graph)
- India’s fiscal position remains weak: Moody’s
- New York Suspends Licenses, Drives Tax Delinquents To Pay Up
- Student debt may hurt housing recovery by hampering first-time buyers
- Could Wayne County go bankrupt like Detroit? Robert Ficano to address $200 million deficit
- Food stamp usage has quadrupled among US service members since ‘06
- More Calif. students seeking financial aid for college
- Chicago unions organize to fight potential pension cuts
- Inflation falls below 2% target for first time in four years but cost of living STILL rising faster than wages (UK)
Some of Europe's biggest film stars are promoting a tax on Wall Street speculation through a new short film. David Yates, who made the last four Harry Potter movies, is the director, and one of the actors is Andrew Lincoln, the star zombie-fighter from the hit TV show "The Walking Dead."
The video is set 10 years in the future, with Lincoln anchoring a newscast looking back at the impact of the tax. Bankers from Spain, Germany, and France boast about how the tax has generated revenues to help fund public services and combat poverty and climate change.The video is timed to influence the final phase of negotiations over a tax of less than one percent on each trade of stocks, bonds, and derivatives.
Meanwhile, a British banker (played by Bill Nighy from the comedies The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Love, Actually) becomes increasingly embarrassed over his country's failure to implement the tax and eventually throws a complete hissy fit.
The video is timed to influence the final phase of European negotiations over a tax of just a fraction of one percent on each trade of stocks, bonds, and derivatives. Eleven governments from the European Union have formed a "coalition of the willing" to coordinate such a tax. They include Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, and Slovakia.
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Click here to chip in $5 or more to help us keep the inspiration coming.
The international aid agency Oxfam helped produce the film and is hosting a "million strong" petition that could make the tax the most popular in history. For four years, John Cavanagh's organization, the Institute for Policy Studies, has worked with Oxfam and numerous labor, environmental, public health, and other civil society groups around the world as part of this campaign.
It's been thrilling to watch the progress in Europe, and once people there start raising massive revenue from the tax, it will boost momentum in the United States. While the Obama administration is not yet supportive, there are several congressional proposals that include some form of financial transaction tax.Many financial experts say the tax would help curb dangerous speculation that has no value for the real economy.
Rep. Keith Ellison has introduced the Inclusive Prosperity Act , which proposes tax rates of 0.5 percent on stock, 0.1 percent on bond, and 0.005 percent on derivative trades, with exemptions for lower-income investors. Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. Peter DeFazio have proposed a slightly more modest version, which could be expected to raise $350 billion over 10 years.
Beyond the revenue benefits, many financial experts argue that the tax would help curb dangerous short-term speculation that has no value for the real economy. IPS has helped organize a letter signed by more than 50 financial professionals who believe "These taxes will rebalance financial markets away from a short-term trading mentality that has contributed to instability in our financial markets."
We've had the people on our side for some time now. In a January 2013 poll conducted by Hart Research, 62 percent of Americans approved of a "small tax on all stock/bond/market trades." Having major cultural figures join the fight will greatly increase our chances of overcoming opposition from Wall Street.
John Cavanagh and Robin Broad wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions.
Robin is a Professor of International Development at American University in Washington, D.C. and has worked as an international economist in the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Congress. John is director of theInstitute for Policy Studies, and is co-chair (with David Korten) of the New Economy Working Group. They are co-authors of three books and numerous articles on the global economy, and have been traveling the country and the world for their project Local Dreams: Finding Rootedness in the Age of Vulnerability.
Kayli Levitan and Max Pazak work in an advertising agency in Cape Town, South Africa. The area around their workplace is hip, but like many urban areas it has a large homeless population.
"People often want to donate but they don’t know how, where or are a little frightened of the unknown. We’re often told by city officials not to just give, as they worry that it will perpetuate the problem of begging," explained Levitan.
Daily Digest 2/18 - Middle Class Retailers Dying Slow Death, Why Food Prices Are About To Start Soaring
- One-Percent Jokes and Plutocrats in Drag: What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society
- ASX, BoC in yuan payment venture
- Middle class retailers dying a slow death
- Gold And Silver Shorts Were The Real Demise For Bear Stearns
- Margin Call: Ted Butler Wonders About the Real Cause of Bear Stearns' Collapse
- Reaching Limits to Growth: What Should our Response Be?
- Silver: 50 Days and 100 Years
- Where's the Real Cost of Climate Change?
- Reasons Why Your Food Prices Are About To Start Soaring
Michelle Regner knows first-hand that building a sharing platform from scratch is expensive, time consuming, and demanding. A former financial analyst, an experienced CEO, and the co-founder of office space sharing platform DesksNear.Me, Regner has faced the challenges of getting a sharing platform off the ground. In her experience, finding engineering talent in Silicon Valley, where it’s scarce and expensive, is one of the biggest hurdles. This left her wondering: Why do people starting sharing businesses need to reinvent the wheel?
In years past, we've solicited feedback from our readers to help improve the value of the service we offer. Well, we're up to it again - so, if you're able, please take a few minutes to fill out our latest survey.
As before, we'll summarize for you the aggregate feedback we receive, in order to make sure we've listened to the PP.com community correctly. Then, we'll use those insights to inform our content and feature priorities for the rest of 2014.
Village Building Convergence, photo credit cityrepair.org
Naomi Klein: How science is telling us all to revolt
Is our relentless quest for economic growth killing the planet? Climate scientists have seen the data – and they are coming to some incendiary conclusions.
Cryptocurrencies and what they mean for sharing | Matslats - Community currency engineer
You've probably heard of the bitcoin rollercoaster by now, and wondered what different it makes to sharers. Most of us understand that when the Federal Reserve pumps $75M per month into a stagnant economy, our hard-earned dollars lose purchasing power, and that meanwhile the supply of bitcoin is fix...