About this Project
Little Denver is a project being built by, with, and for people without housing in Denver, CO.
We seek to create affordable, sustainable alternatives to the current housing system. Tiny homes, residential structures between 100 and 200 square feet in size, is what we propose. We seek to build these homes and place them wherever makes sense. Our vision is to create a community of micro-houses grouped together in a Tiny Home Village.
A Tiny Home Village
is a congregation of tiny homes with a centralized kitchen, facilities, and common space. They provide permanent or temporary housing for people who were previously unhoused. Cities around the country are already creating tiny home villages, and more are springing up. Most of these villages were created by the residents themselves, and continue to be democratically run by those living in the village. In short, the village model is not only about housing but about mutual aid, participation, respect, and collaboration. We aim to raise our quality of life and contribute to our city in a meaningful way. We are working to create this kind of participatory community village of homes here in Denver.
We are in a housing crisis. Denver rent is at a record high and keeps getting higher. Continued cutbacks for affordable housing construction and maintenance, combined with the rising cost of housing in Denver, has made housing more scarce and competitive than ever. Today in Denver there are at least 6130¹ people who live on the streets. We have to exist somewhere, and because there are no suitable options to access affordable housing if you work a low-wage job, or are unable to work, we have to create options for ourselves and defend our right to exist in public space. A Tiny Home Village is a cheap, ecologically conscious, communal, tangible and dignified alternative to being criminalized for surviving in public spaces, or trying to hustle a spot in the overcrowded shelter system.
Fortunately, this model has proven precedent around the country. The first of its kind, Dignity Village opened in 2000 in Portland, OR and houses 60 people. Other examples are Opportunity Village in Eugene, OR; OM village in Madison, WI; Quixote Village in Olympia, WA; and Community First in Austin, Texas. These places have provided powerful evidence that tiny homes are a creative and viable housing option, and that they can be organized in a variety of ways that are legal, safe, and meet the needs of their residents.
Unfortunately, Denver’s current municipal building code does not allow ‘Tiny Homes’ to be built as residences within city limits, for various reasons, such as minimum space requirements and requirements for connection to the municipal water system. This has prevented Tiny Homes and Tiny Home Villages from being used as a solution to the current housing crisis. Working with the City to loosen some of these restrictions is a huge part of our strategic plan.
What we need now is a small fund to build several homes for and with people in the unhoused community
. $8000 will be used to construct two types of houses: Conestoga Huts (at $700) and Tiny Homes (at $2500), with a small amount left over for tools and miscellaneous expenses. If we get to $10,000, we will be able to build another Tiny Home or two more Conestoga Huts. If we can even get to $12,000, we can build up to four Tiny Homes! These will be used to provide life-saving shelter to an unhoused individual through the winter.
Frequently asked Questions
|Type of Program
||Cost to House a Person for one Night
|Tiny Home Village Housing (Dignity Village Portland, OR)
|Permanent Supportive Housing
|Prison or Jail Time in Colorado
“Where will you put them?”
Due to the prohibitive cost of land in Denver, the tiny homes group has been so far unable to access a good sized area for the village. However, to move forward into the winter of 2015, at a time when so many are seeking shelter, we have decided to start building houses and finding homes for them wherever we can, while simultaneously pursuing avenues of accessing larger, publicly owned plots of land.
“What will the houses look like?”
The two base models we are seeking to build are Contestoga Huts and traditional four-walled Tiny Homes.
One Conestoga Hut only costs $600. It is a design pioneered by advocates and friends at Opportunity Village in Eugene, OR. There are four components to a Conestoga hut: a basic 6 by 10 foot insulated floor, two solid, insulated walls in the front and back, and a metal wire roof that is curved to connect to the long sides of the floor. The roofing frame is then covered with insulation and outdoor vinyl that is attached to the base of the structure. The result is a structure that resembles the Conestoga wagons used during early American westward expansion. For more info on these structures, visit http://www.communitysupportedshelters.org/conestoga-huts
A Tiny Home is a more traditional looking home with four walls, windows, and a door. Our base design here is modular—the home is constructed with 8 x 16 panels which can be assembled in a variety of ways to create either a single, double, or L-shaped tiny home.
Risks and Challenges
For folks who live unsheltered, every day is a challenge. Between fulfilling basic needs for survival, to avoiding the continual harassment and abuse that comes with having unhoused status, to even trying to get ahead of the game, life is fraught with risks. We certainly will face challenges as we move forward with this important work towards justice and social change. Will they be harder challenges than the everyday feat of making it through as an unhoused person? Maybe—but not by much. These future tiny home residents have worked hard to make it this far, and don’t give up so easily.
The biggest risk that folks living in these types of structures face is being kicked out of them due to enforcement of zoning and building codes. This is not something we can easily control, but our team is working non stop to mitigate concerns by outreaching to neighbors, creating beautiful and aesthetically pleasing homes, while simultaneously pursuing avenues for loosening the restrictions.
Luckily, we have a vibrant community supported by strong non profit partners who can help us navigate and adapt to the challenges we face in our mission. We are exited to draw from a wide base of community support, who agree that Tiny Homes can address creatively, compassionately, and with great fun, one of the premier civil rights struggles of our time. We are blessed to be with this community as we embark on this new chapter. We know it will be successful!
Other ways to Donate
We are also seeking direct contributions of lumber, hardware, tools, and other building materials.
Additionally, if you have land in the Denver Metro Area and are interested in making Tiny Homes a housing reality, please contact us to discuss a possible relationship!
If you are interested in learning more about our Tiny Homes projects please contact us!
¹Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, 2015