Why the Government Should Invest in Tiny Homes

ECLIPSE Cottages' Justin Draplin on the benefits of this product type as emergency housing.

Justin Draplin

No matter where one goes in the United States, there is a chance for some natural disaster to wreak havoc. According to the United Nations, incidents of extreme weather events worsened by climate change have increased significantly in the last 50 years. In the U.S., superstorms have not only destroyed infrastructure, but led to massive economic losses for the areas most affected.

One of the biggest adverse effects of natural disasters is housing loss.  Those left in the wake of natural disasters—such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes—could easily experience bouts of homelessness or trouble getting back on their feet concerning housing.

The solution for those affected by the bevy of natural disasters that people in the U.S. encounter could be “thinking tiny.” The tiny home revolution has allowed people to downsize, minimize, and lessen their carbon footprint. Now, it could be leveraged to help those most adversely affected by natural disasters.

An affordable solution

One of the largest assets that can be lost in the midst of a disaster, like a hurricane or a tornado, is one’s home. The upheaval that can follow losing one’s home can have long-lasting consequences with family structure, job placement, and overall well-being. Homelessness puts people at higher risk of victimization and health issues, and can come at a large financial cost to government entities following a natural disaster.

Tiny homes can be an affordable solution to the post-disaster homelessness crisis. Financing for these homes can be far more cost-effective than a traditional home mortgage, and the affordability of tiny homes allows them to be easily accessible for bulk purchase by the government following a disaster situation. Those who had homeowners insurance policies on their homes that covered replacement costs could consider tiny homes an option for new housing, or they can be used as temporary options directly following the disaster’s impact.

Tiny homes are “plug and play” in many ways, and can be set up nearly anywhere they are needed. Due to the solar roofing and water filtration systems built into many new, sustainable tiny homes, they needn’t utilize local utilities as much as a traditional home — if at all.

Sustainable living in a period of widespread climate change.

Climate change is all around us, and the uptick in more severe natural disasters is just one sign of the issue. Many tiny home manufacturers have an eye on sustainable living, just as many tiny home aficionados prefer the housing option for its earth-friendly focus. Solar roofing is just the beginning. Many tiny home builders eschew the use of wood in their designs, which reduces deforestation — one of the leading causes of mudslides, erosion, and flood risk.

By using recyclable materials and steel, tiny homes are not only more sustainable but also more fire resistant. Outdoor contaminants, such as smoke, can be kept at bay with these building materials as well. The construction is strong and can be completed quickly following a disaster, helping those in great need of shelter precisely when they need it.

Tiny homes can also be outfitted with solar or battery utility backups, in case of power outages that often come along with natural disasters. If the drinking water in an area is contaminated during a disaster, this is where a tiny home’s water filtration system can come in handy.

While many turn to tiny homes to reduce their bills or live a simpler life off the grid, they can also be options for safe, affordable, and all-inclusive options when it seems all is lost following a disaster situation.

Getting people back on their feet

Natural disasters can destroy lives. They can certainly lead to periods of homelessness for people. Following infamous natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, we have collectively witnessed the struggle to house thousands displaced by the broken levees and massive flooding that washed their homes away.

Investing in tiny homes could be a solution to the problem of housing those displaced by natural disasters. With their strong, rigid construction that can be completed quickly, their affordability, and their sustainable nature, tiny homes can help people gain stability during a time of uncertainty.

Justin Draplin, CEO and Founder of ECLIPSE Cottages.

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