Tiny Houses for Humanity

by Jay Shafer and River King



 Tiny Houses for Humanity originally formed due to the housing crisis here in Sonoma County, where we have three times the national homeless rate. In lieu of the devastation caused by fires here in Northern California, the need for adequate housing is more dire than ever. We hope that people see the need for housing as a ubiquitous problem, that anyone can suffer at any moment unexpectedly. Given this tragic time, TH4H is more dedicated than ever to building tiny houses and providing shelters.

UPDATE: We are thrilled to announce that Merry Edward's Winery in Sebastopol, CA is donating milled Redwood to Tiny Houses for Humanity Campaign. There is so much Redwood left over from one of their builds that it will likely supply ALL of the wood needed for each of the Tiny Houses, a donation worth at least $50,000 or more!

Thank you so very much, Merry Edwards! Tiny Houses for Humanity appreciates your generous offer!!!

The Bay Area has become ground zero for the housing crisis that is sweeping the nation.  For some reason we’ve failed to recognize that every human being is worthy of housing regardless of their income, abilities, or social standing.  Tiny Houses for Humanity is the project of a group of Bay Area activists who have become increasingly uncomfortable with the number of people that California leaves sleeping on the streets or in their cars.  The Tiny House Villages we are looking to create will provide veterans, single parents with children, folks struggling to survive on disability, college students, and other marginalized groups with access to my most affordable and universal designs ever.  

I met River King 2 years ago shortly after she and her then 2 year old son, Asa, suffered enormous hardship due to a cruel and unusual housing situation.  Human exploitation for the sake of profit is common in the Bay Area’s ruthless housing market, and Sonoma County has no safety net for families that find themselves in a state of emergency.  River and Asa were struggling to survive in what is ironically named a Safe Parking Lot Program here in Santa Rosa - as if there is any safety to be found while being overexposed to the elements, or strange people, while struggling to find access to adequate food, warmth, a shower, or any of the basic human needs of survival.  Even now, too many children are existing in a poor state of health while they and their parents live desperate lives in and out of cars and shelters.  River and I joined efforts to bring awareness to the absurdity that is California’s homeless crisis and housing shortage.  We know it takes a village to raise a child, but little Asa has been the catalyst for raising this village.  

We began to envision smaller villages than I had previously planned; and thanks to our local government officials becoming wise to the fact that a housing first approach is the only sane response to the housing crisis in Sonoma County we are finally ready to break ground and raise a village that will cater to the needs of our local displaced residents.  

The various parenting tiny house enthusiasts in my life have been comparing notes and have influenced the necessary components required to make a life with children in a tiny house village as sweet as possible.  The recurring themes -  less consumption and less production for a better quality of life while focusing on what we need to be safe, comfortable, and self-actualized human beings - have inspired my new totally customizable designs.  Allowing for basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, and safety to merge with a few of our personal preferences frees us to live lifestyles that give us energy rather than drain us of our health and sanity.  For example, River prefers to have plenty of kitchen space because her happiest and healthiest memories include sprouting, fermenting, and growing fresh herbs on her windowsill while cooking up good times for her friends.  Keeping in mind the person who needs a designated yoga or meditation spot in order to cope before leaving their home for the day influenced a design with a foyer that can comfortably remain open and ready for use.   Most of the students we’ve met who are struggling to stay housed while carrying a full-time course load and a job or two would prefer a little desk space that doesn’t have to double as a kitchen table or a bed.  

I am proposing that our first village be 5 or 6 tiny houses in size, each one featuring one of my new and improved designs, complete with a shared common area and garden for the kiddos to romp around in.  We are arranging teams of volunteers from organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Sonoma State University’s J.U.M.P. to help with the building and landscaping in order to reflect the values of the old barn raising days where no one was expected to fend for themselves against the elements.  I regularly receive messages from friends and volunteers far and wide that are longing to throw their energy into a project such as this, and have noticed amazing healing and spiritual elements at play when members of the community are supported in the gifting and good faith of these simple acts of kindness.

In order to bring this vision into fruition, we are asking for $100,000.  This will cover the cost of building materials for the tiny houses as well as landscaping a shared outdoor lounge space and garden.  In the event that we overfund our project the money will go towards the resources needed to begin creating our next tiny house village.  It is my sincere hope that this artistic endeavor will plant the seed that sprouts additional Tiny House Villages all over the county.  We look forward to this project being the catalyst that brings about much needed sanity that comes when you combine Housing for All with the minimalist lifestyle that Tiny House living provides.

Here are some photos of the perks we are offering:

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