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Tiny houses fight big homeless problem


Photo by Charles Osgood/MCT

A Madison police officer pats down a homeless man on the street. Occupy Madison wishes to supply tiny houses to decrease the growing number of homeless individuals within the city.

Bobby Joe Magers Jr. , Opinion Writer
March 25, 2014
Filed under Opinion, Top Stories

Miniature models of houses are emerging — a new trend where volunteer groups are building these tiny homes for the homeless.

In Madison, the group directly involved with this fresh idea has a direct relation to the Occupy Movement.

Occupy Madison Inc. hopes to buy land for eight to 10 of the houses they intend to build for the homeless, according to the Associated Press.

The Occupy Movement started off as a protest against Wall Street and the uneven distribution of wealth in America. Soon it exploded into much more.

“This was a movement of the ‘99 percent,’ of the broad masses of people robbed of their due share of society’s wealth and opportunities by millionaires and billionaires, i.e. by the ‘one percent’,” said Ethan Earle, writer for the Rosa Luxemberg Stiffung.

Although the Occupy Movement eventually broke up — or was broken up depending on what side it’s viewed from — the groups still exist and are aiming to make a difference in this world.

These houses aren’t mansions.

They are exactly what they sound like — tiny houses.

“The 98-square-foot houses have a roof, insulated walls, a compost toilet and sink and are on wheels,” according to the Associated Press.

The wheels allow the houses to meet a Madison code requiring them to move every two days. That is why Occupy Madison would like to buy parcels of land, so the housed homeless will have some type of permanence and residence.

Some people, of course, don’t believe the homeless should get houses, and tear into the volunteers who want to work on curing a huge issue in America — homelessness.

David Blaska, a writer for Right Wisconsin, summed up his attitude toward the idea of helping the homeless by writing an article titled, “Will Madison’s Stupid Mini Homeless Shelters Soon Blight Your Street?”

In his article, he regurgitates the same arguments most will believe without doing any research, like taxpayers’ money is used to pay for these houses, and he reminds the readers what a calamity the Occupy Movement has been.

Blaska compares the effort to a car lot that was turned into a warm-up shelter for the homeless in the winter of 2011, stating it only brought about disease.

“The latter was the work of Occupy Madison, the politically motivated group that spun off from the disastrous Occupy Wall Street movement,” Blaska said.

Of course, anything that works toward a positive solution to an epidemic and doesn’t depend on government handouts, for some reason, is met with the same negativity as programs that are supposedly destroying our economic base, such as welfare and food stamps.

The homeless in Wisconsin and the country need a solution like tiny houses to give them identities, treat them like humans and possibly turn their lives around.

“Each year in Madison more than 3,500 people experience homelessness,” according to Porchlight Inc., a Madison-based homeless office that provides emergency care, safe haven and a resource center. “For some, homelessness is a once-in-a-lifetime crisis. For others it’s an ongoing struggle.”

The Occupy Movement is alive and well, and their mission to help the population who will never get a taste of the American dream lives along with them.

Today it’s tiny houses, tomorrow, who knows?