Tiny houses proposed of Alachua County homeless

Just about everything 26-year-old George Mack has to his name is inside a tent in Gainesville.  “I’ve been homeless for a couple months,” Mack explained.

Money stopped coming in when he lost his job fixing computers. That forced him and his girlfriend into the Dignity Village tent city in Gainesville. Their baby girl is due soon.  “To be real, It’s kind of sad,” Mack explained. “I know they say misery loves company. But, I don’t like feeling miserable.”

Alachua County’s Commission said it wants to help the county’s thousands of homeless people. Chair, Robert Hutchinson, has the idea of putting the homeless in tiny houses.  Hutchinson said “Just get them into shelter. Because, right now, we have them living in tents. That’s not good, it’s not safe, it’s not secure for their stuff. We think tiny houses are part of that solution.”

It’s just an idea right now, but Hutchinson said the houses could be at least 120 square feet -- that’s 10 feet by 12 feet -- with costs perhaps starting around $10,000.  Hutchinson said “If you can get somebody into a house that gives them a secure home, that’s the first step, often, to recovery. Then we can start to deal with their other issues.”

There are still unanswered questions about the tiny houses related to their design, construction, location and funding.   Even so, some of the people who live in the tent city said even the idea of a tiny house means a lot.

“Just hearing about it helps me to keep faith," Mack said. "Knowing that eventually we’ll have a home, rather than staying in a tent.”

The tiny house idea will be hashed out at an all-day meeting on Feb 16, 2016 at the Alachua County Health Department.  

“It puts a smile on my face just to know that someone’s trying to help,” Mack said.

Hutchinson said he hopes a tiny house can be built in an 8-hour time span of that February meeting. He said that way, they’ll to be able to see and touch one of the models of a tiny house.

He said this idea could also help people who simply want to downsize to a tiny house.