Why We Fight for Tiny Houses

Originally posted on February 11th, 2015 and recovered via Wayback Machine.

There was a documentary primarily shown during WW2 to soldiers called “Why We Fight” to inspire their sense of duty and patriotism. While we know that what we are doing isn’t nearly as brave, selfless and righteous as soldiers in war, we also know why we fight. We fight because we believe in something greater than Tiny Houses.

The tiny house movement for us isn’t just about individuals being able to purchase and live in tiny houses. It’s about more than that. Sarah and I had multiple reasons to build the Tiny House. Some reasons were practical; like it’s less expensive to operate, they’re more environmentally sustainable, and the lifestyle helps pay down debt. Still others were more “philosophical” in nature, and when thinking in philosophical terms, we ask ourselves of purpose: what purpose do Tiny Houses serve? What is the inherent value? These questions are more difficult to measure and not so quantitative.

When Sarah first started talking about tiny houses I was actually in the middle of a course in the Philosophy of Happiness. The over-arching question of the course was what makes someone happy and how one becomes happier. I’ve always been happiest when I had less to worry about. Less material possessions, nice clothes, and other stuff that inevitably, especially around me, would get dirty or broken. I also am happiest when I’m working on behalf of a community. I realized this when I switched from working in hospitality to nonprofits.

At the time I was working for Miriam’s Kitchen whose mission is to end chronic homelessness in Washington, D.C. We advocated for a model of housing called “Housing First” that, in my opinion, Tiny Houses could provide a real solution to increasing the quantity of units in urban spaces. Most people might not realize that it would actually cost less for our municipalities to house people experiencing homelessness then leaving them on the street. Housing First offers permanent and affordable housing rapidly without all the barriers of traditional subsidized housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Once housed in a permanent supportive housing unit, services such as health and case management are provided on-site or on a consistent basis. Through this method, we reduce the frequency that people experiencing homelessness use emergency services such as emergency rooms, police, and other expensive public services.

Tiny Houses in urban centers would generate urban in-fill and provide low-income communities with better access to jobs, services, and community-groups or organizations that help support and create a thriving environment. The more Sarah and I thought about it the more I wanted to put my money where my mouth was. When we realized that we could not yet legally live in our tiny house it was demoralizing, but we soon realized that it also offered an even more impactful opportunity for us to open our doors to more than just friends and family, but to everyone! We could provide an opportunity for tiny house hopefuls, advocates, and even skeptics to see its potential.

But we went even further. We opened our tiny doors to policy makers, organizations and affordable housing advocates to inspire them by what Tiny Houses provide for affordable housing and urban planning policy. Tiny Houses serve many purposes, but the inherent value to them is perhaps its symbology. It’s a symbol of possibilities. Possibilities for more sustainable lifestyles, for improved efficiency, and most importantly for the possibility to house people that need it most.

All of you that have stayed, followed, or visited Music City Tiny House are all apart of this change. You support us with your enthusiasm, your passion and your excitement. We hope that you will tell more people about us, or short of that,  at least tell them about the movement. We hope that you will continue to share with us your successes, challenges, frustrations and questions so that we can be a part of each of your own tiny house journeys, because, at the end of the day, we’re here for this community and our main goal is to improve our country/city/towns ability to provide affordable housing for everyone.