It’s “Tiny Home” festival time in Colorado Springs with tiny homes on display this weekend. I like the tiny home concept and I like that our county government hasn’t tried to outlaw them as other counties have in Colorado. If someone wants to put one on their property, they should be able to without interference from government regulators.
What I am 100% against is allowing organizations who claim to be about solving the homeless issue being able to use the idea of tiny home villages as the answer to the homeless problem in Colorado Springs or anywhere else. It’s not an answer and the advocates know it.
There is a plan by Blackbird and others supported by members of the city council, in principle, to rezone sections of Colorado Springs to allow for homeless villages made up of tiny homes and force those on neighborhoods all over the city. They claim this gets people off the streets and into safe environments where they can be provided services they need and then to become self sufficient. They also claim these villages will eventually become vibrant tourist attractions where you’ll want to take your family to buy fresh fruit and vegetables grown inside the village in community gardens, purchase crafts made by the villagers, and stroll along the streets with your children in tow to enjoy coffee in an outdoor cafe; close your eyes and it’s the movie version of Paris on a summers day. But, what’s the reality?
Reality exposes the one size fits all solution of warehousing the homeless into confined areas as a viable option as a disaster. There is no one size fits all solution as there are different circumstances of homelessness and each requires distinctly different approaches.
We can start with the three classes of circumstances that move people to being homeless:
-The first, and one I have been close to being part of a few times in my life, are the families or individuals who need a temporary hand up and will use that help to improve their circumstances; the single mom or family temporarily out of work or who may work, but need some assistance so they don’t have to make the choice between rent and groceries. The truth is, there are 100s of programs to help in these cases and most of those we think about like food banks, rent assistance, Church organizations, non-profits with grants are designed for this temporary help and they provide it expertly and efficiently.
-The second class are those who are mentally ill and on the streets because programs that used to exist no longer do and dumping them on the streets is the unfortunate result. A temporary hand up isn’t going to help, at least not in the short term, outside of a meal and visits by compassionate individuals and organizations to provide some medical services. That temporary help won’t get them off the streets or help their mental illness. You can add the drug addicted to this category, too.
-Then there are those who just like the lifestyle and there are many. People who could work, but choose to live the “travelers” lifestyle. These are no better than con men and women who use food banks to support their lifestyle and take advantage of government services essentially stealing by taking those services and feeding off the compassionate nature of our city. They are thieves taking what they want and taking from those who really need the help.
Advocates for tiny home villages, like Homes for All active now in the Springs, with an agenda that uses the homeless issue to push for the destruction of private property rights and force homeless villages as a means to obtain income diversity in neighborhoods exploiting the public demand to “fix” the homeless issue are deceitful. They claim a utopia that fixes the problem, try to convince citizens it gets the homeless off the street, but they ignore, even as they know, these villages won’t help the mentally ill, won’t help the drug addicted, won’t rid the city of those who take advantage of our generosity, and won’t help the single mom who just needs a break. There are also political reasons as radicals want instant voting blocks established.
Warehousing that single mom in a village with the mentally ill harms that mom and her kids. Putting her in a situation where drug addicts roam the neighborhood harms her and her children. Providing shelter to those who are just passing through and could help themselves, but won’t, puts her among thieves.
I like tiny homes and property owners should be able to build them and enjoy them as they see fit. Allowing them to be used for purposes of a false solution to our homeless problem does great harm to our city and does nothing to solve the homeless issue.
~ by Don Rodgers