MSU presents idea of tiny home shelters for the chronically homeless

By Morgan McKay - MTN News

There was another presentation today proposing the use of tiny homes to serve as transitional housing for the chronically homeless.

“Can we create small homes on a temporary basis for those in the most critical need for housing?” said Professor at School of Architecture, Ralph Johnson.

The School of Architecture at Montana State University decided that this semester they would build model size tiny homes to help serve as transitional housing for those who are homeless, but also full-time residents in Bozeman.

“It seems a good step, especially when you consider that Bozeman has a lot of people that are continually homeless, not just passing through, and this is what that is aimed at. Those that are continuously in the community and in need of shelter,” said graduate student at MSU, Kara Baldwin.

The goal would be to build 30-50 tiny homes or shelters. There are multiple design options, including wheelchair accessibility and personal style.

“We left this open, we were thinking about a five-foot circle which is the diameter of turning for a wheelchair. There is a complete shower stall essentially with a toilet inside of it, so the entire floor of the bathroom is a shower pan, draining underneath the shower which would be over here and that's how we make room for a wheelchair,” said a student in architecture school, Jaffe Wilde.

There are multiple different styles to help give a homeless person a better sense of identity and community to help them get back on their feet.

“There are Two flexible spaces. We can put whatever works best for whoever is here. We could have a table like shown here or a big comfy chair like someone's favorite recliner over here,” said Baldwin.  

This has been tried in other cities as well such as Seattle and Austin, in all these cities, funding and location came from different sources.

“Our number one goal is to keep it simple and flexible within the parameters that we have already outlined. Keep it inexpensive,” said Wilde.

The next step will be to find funding to build two real tiny homes to display.

“Next semester we can offer a class with the same students, or others could actually construct them. We need roughly $10,000 a piece to move forward with that,” said Johnson.

These model size tiny homes will be here at Cheever Hall at MSU until the end of the semester so anyone in the community is welcome to stop by and take a peak. This whole project is only in its very beginning stages, and a lot more funding and even a possible land donation will have to come later.