Advocates for the homeless around the country believe too much money is being spent on punishing the homeless, and not enough is spent on breaking the cycle of homelessness altogether.
A University of Texas two-year survey of homeless individuals found that each homeless person costs taxpayers approximately $14,480 per year, primarily for overnight stays in jail. In Seattle’s 1811 Eastlake Housing First Program, residents who suffered severe alcohol or substance abuse cost $2,449 less per person per month than individuals in conventional city shelters. In Los Angeles, placing just four chronically homeless people into permanent housing saved taxpayers more than $80,000 in one year.
Kloehn does not claim that his tiny houses are a solution for homelessness, but rather, an answer: an inexpensive endeavor that has allowed some of the homeless in Oakland to stay safe and out of jail.
Whether or not Kloehn’s creative project will sprout in communities outside of Oakland, it is safe to say that for the homeless who now have a place to call home, his project has changed lives.
“It’s funny,” he told NBC, “they may be homeless, but they are my neighbors.”
On his website, Kloehn encourages people to participate in their own Homeless Homes Project. He states, “You don’t have to be a trained engineer to make these. You just have to like to build.”