Chicago to Eye Tiny Houses for the Homeless

Flickr/Tomas Quinones

(Flickr/Tomas Quinones)

Alderman Edward M. Burke (14th) is urging the City Council to examine the feasibility of establishing a pilot program to provide “tiny houses” for Chicago’s homeless population.

Alderman Burke is calling upon the Committee on Human Relations to hold public hearings to solicit testimony from groups such as the Citywide Task Force to Reduce Homelessness, an organization charged with addressing chronic homelessness throughout Chicago, to discuss “the pros and cons” of implementing such a program.

Portland, Oregon, the Seattle-King County area in Washington and Berkeley, California have already created similar pilot programs. The homes are 320-square-feet and are a low-cost and quick way to provide housing for a homeless person. The materials for these homes cost $2,000 and are built by volunteers.

“These cities are testing ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions to a chronic problem that all major urban centers face,” Alderman Burke said. “I see no reason why Chicago should not also think and act innovatively.”

Homelessness affected more than half a million people in the United States in 2016 alone. Chicago has 5,889 homeless individuals based on the 2016 Chicago Homeless Count and Survey which includes individuals in shelters as well as those living on the streets of Chicago.

Alderman Burke is suggesting that the “tiny house” initiative become part of the city’s Chicago’s Plan 2.0, a 7-step program that develops new strategies to prevent homelessness and rapidly rehouse individuals in order to promote stability and self-sufficiency.

Chicago’s Plan 2.0 was established under a partnership with the Chicago Planning Council on Homelessness, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, the Chicago Alliance and the City of Chicago. It was a spin-off of Getting Housed, Staying Housed 10-year plan originally introduced in 2002 by Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has championed multiple efforts to end homelessness, such as the expansion of Day for Change, a program that provides day labor opportunities for homeless individuals.

The City Council has also implemented a 4% surcharge on the house sharing industry, making Chicago among the first municipalities to leverage a dedicated funding source for homelessness efforts.

The City of Chicago has also participated in the national Ending Veterans Homelessness Initiative (EVHI) campaign that has housed more than 3,000 homeless veterans to date.

Other initiatives underway include the construction of a new facility for homeless families being built at 910 N. Christiana Avenue on the West Side which will specialize in triage services. The center will be operated by the Chicago Emergency Homeless Assessment and Response Center in conjunction with the Salvation Army.

For more information contact Donal Quinlan, media liaison, at 312-744-6237.