A Survey In Search of A Human Right To Shelter: Tiny Temporary Homes

tiny homes screened from parking lot by a temporary fence
Residents living in temporary homes on temporary sites rate them much higher than tents or emergency shelters.

While news of yet another collection of ‘tiny homes’ is becoming more commonplace in North America, they are by no means a standard method of community commitment to housing for the homeless.

There would appear to be a set of criteria that must be in place before a community can build tiny homes for the homeless and evaluate their success. Some form of official or charitable responsibility must be acknowledged to pursue a basic human right to adequate housing.

Unfortunately, a hefty majority of North American communities are still trapped in homelessness peek-a-boo mode. Do you see a collection of homeless people? Put your hands over your eyes (a.k.a. ‘sweep’ the that tent encampment out of sight). Now they’re gone! Wasn’t that easy? Oops, there they are again. And again. Peek-a-boo.

It is necessary for a community to recognize that the ultimate fix for homelessness is housing, not harassment, in order to take possible advantage of tiny home construction.

By and large, the intent of communities constructing tiny home solutions is to use them as temporary, ‘transitional’ housing — a stepping stone to later permanent shelter.

Elsewhere in the world, particularly in dense free-enterprise driven cities, ‘tiny homes’ of one kind or another, are now being offered as permanent solutions1.

The closest thing to permanent ‘tiny homes’ in North America has been the trailer park. These have been rapidly disappearing as investment firms with deep pockets find more profitable uses for trailer park land. Older adults wanting to downsize offer more attractive profits than can be earned from traditional trailer park residents2.

As an answer to homelessness, however, the impact and effectiveness of tiny homes are yet to be studied in detail. Nevertheless, surveys of tiny home transitional housing, together with its effectiveness, are becoming available. Here’s one that looks at several transitional tiny home communities in the province of Ontario. Read more at tvoTODAY: ‘A place they know they’re welcome’: Are tiny shelters an answer for homelessness?


  1. Try: Singapore’s World Class Public Housing Faces A Shrinkage Problem
  2. Try: You Can Invest In Affordability With A Manufactured Home REIT. A What?