• Can tiny homes solve the housing crisis?

    By: Crystal Haynes , Jesse Grossi


    It is a growing movement of people who want to simplify their lives by drastically downsizing their homes to less than 400 square feet.  Some call the movement a fad, but others say it will be a permanent affordable solution to a housing crisis.

    Tracey Powell designed her tiny house in Brookline, New Hampshire herself.  She put function first and focused on the essentials. She said the only object in her home that is purely decorative is her mother's urn. 

    "My built in, kinda airline accessories cabinet because I wanted these things to be recessed or attached to the wall," said Powell. 

    PHOTOS: Inside a 150-square foot tiny home

    The freelance architect built her custom 150 foot square home in just six months with her brother.  The total cost, with high-end Italian cabinetry and radiant floor-heating, was $65,000.   

    The average cost to build a tiny home is roughly $30,000, but according to homebuyer.com, the cost to build even a modest regular-sized home is over $300,000.  Powell said she is saving more than $1,000 a month just by owning her tiny house. 

    "I'm going fishing or I'm going hiking, or I'm travelling and just spending a lot more time with family and friends than I used to because now I don't have a home to maintain and I honestly don't have to work as hard to pay for the home that I'm living in," said Powell. 

    Complied data from tinylife.com shows 68 percent of tiny home owners don't have a mortgage and 89 percent have less credit card debt that the average American.


    Joining in the tiny house movement does present challenges.  It is illegal to park tiny houses it in most residential neighborhoods.

    Mount Holyoke college student Sarah Hastings was asked to leave her 190 square foot tiny house last May after Hadley voted against a bylaw amendment that would have allowed her to stay. 

    Right now, Nantucket is the only place where parking and living in a tiny house is legal. Powell needs to park her home in one of a handful of RV parks in the region that accepts them.  

    "Since tiny houses are brand new, there's really no law with them and the city fears that," said Franallen Acosta. 

    Acosta said he wants to carve out the American dream for thousands of low-income and homeless families in the Merrimack Valley. 

    "I knew that early on I had to get the city involved. So I was waiting in city hall. Anybody with a suit," he said. 

    Zoning laws have been an obstacle to his vision for his home city but that hasn't stopped him. Acosta's nonprofit Mi Casita has already received over $2,000 in grants.

    "The idea is empower local people, teach 'em. And then teach them how to build their own houses and have it so that as a community we're building; we're sustaining our own need," he said. 


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