Tiny Houses Bills Introduced – Another Start for Sustainable Living

Tiny houses have become more common across the country over the past decade; in 2015, more than 60,000 people attended the National Tiny House Jamboree in Colorado.

In some cases, the houses are the choice of minimalists seeking to downsize, or environmentalists seeking a lower carbon footprint. In other cases, people build their own tiny homes to avoid having a costly mortgage.

One Island became interested in tiny houses as a potential answer to a problem many farmers in Hawaii are familiar with: finding affordable housing for employees. The organization has a 10-acre farm in Honaunau; one of its goals is finding solutions to Hawaii’s ongoing food security challenges.

“If we’re going to be truly self-reliant … we have to have people that are going to grow that food,” Richards said. “If we focus in on that — in order to have people who are going to work the land we have to have the housing for people.”

Richards said he also saw tiny housing as a way to address Hawaii Island’s existing homeless population as well as people vulnerable to homelessness because they cannot afford rising rent.

“It started with farming, but it has so many other applications,” said One Island co-founder Marcy Montgomery.

Evans has introduced similar measures before, which she said tend to raise concerns from those in the hotel and time-share community about whether the housing would be used for vacation rentals.

“They play by the rules, and they’re concerned when people don’t play by the rules,” Evans said.

“We get caught up in that discussion, and we forget the real discussion, which is (that) farmers want to live where they work.”

“Sometimes a farmer is leasing a lot, and they’re not allowed to live on it,” Montgomery said. “Sometimes they have enough acres that they would like to (support) young farmers, but can’t (because of zoning).”

Saturday’s session was intended as a starting point for raising awareness of the new legislation.

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Cover Photo by Ben Chun
Creative Commons Share-alike license

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