Opportunity Knocks Again!

The folks of Opportunity Village Eugene, Oregon are celebrating as they have made a huge step in the process of building Emerald Village Eugene. The group purchased a 1+ acre lot for $306,000 in May.

Designed as an affordable housing option for people who cannot afford to purchase turn-key homes or who do not otherwise qualify for public housing assistance, Emerald Village differs from Opportunity Village and is about half a mile apart. OV is a safe and temporary place for the homeless to get off the streets until they can move into a transitional housing situation. EVE will be a housing development of 15 small bungalows complete with a kitchenette and bathroom. Residents will then rent these 250 sq. ft dwellings for $225-275 per month.

The next step for EVE is raising the $400,000 in private funds to begin construction. Like EVE, The Habitation is relying on private funds to bring our dream to fruition. Private donations, volunteer efforts and eventually resident “sweat equity” is what will set us apart from government programs.

This is a step in the right direction, bringing affordable housing to individuals and families in Eugene, OR who are living on less income. More affordable housing options are needed across the Nation for Americans living on less income. We see the need here on the Kenai as well and we want to make a difference.

For more information on Opportunity Village and Emerald Village Eugene click here and here. If you would like to be part of our own housing initiative here on the Kenai Peninsula please join the conversation on The Habitation’s Facebook page. There are several opportunities for you to help!

Rental Crisis in America

America’s renters are facing a crisis. A rising number of Americans are paying half or more of their monthly income for rent. Top financial gurus, like Dave Ramsey, suggest that no more than 25% of your take home pay should go towards housing (and this includes taxes and insurance) to be sustainable. Source.

But for many, this is simply not realistic.

To bring awareness of the plight of these Americans, the Make Room Campaign is taking center stage, in an unlikely venue.

Many in the music industry are known for their awareness causes and yet playing concerts in people’s homes is a brilliant way to highlight just how significant this issue is for a significant & growing number of Americans.

But do we really understand what other people are facing when we say there is a rental crisis in our country?

What does this look like? (This example is not exhaustive, but is simply a glimpse into the lives of many struggling Alaskans.)

Let’s say a single mom, we’ll call her Victoria, she has two kids, and she has a “good” job that pays $10/hour. Victoria is money savvy and does her best to budget and live within her means. She works 29.5 hours a week (because her employer tries to keep her less than “full-time” to avoid providing healthcare benefits). Her gross pay is $590 for two weeks. She has federal payroll taxes deducted and brings home $544.86 every other week. Source.

Rent (for a one bedroom apartment) is $750 month and includes electric, heat, & water. From her monthly income of 1,089.72 she has $339.72 left over to use for groceries (average cost for 3 people, for 2 weeks, source) $183.00, cell phone ($30/month, no home phone) $15, fuel for her car (average of 15 gals @ $3.12/gal per week) $93.60, she also has to pay for childcare 2 nights a week when she has to work the late shift (a friend watches her children for a reduced rate of $10/day, which is a dream deal) $40, that leaves a grand total of $8.12 left at the end of each pay check (which is usually spent on food). There is no money available for saving. No money for OTC medicine or medical issues not covered by Denali Kid Care. No money available for car maintenance and especially not for major expenses like replacing tires or a major mechanical issue. There is no money left at the end of the month for birthday gifts, going out to eat or any of the things that most of us take for granted as something we deserve. She can’t afford cable or trash service, she doesn’t have internet and only uses the library’s occasionally. She can’t afford to splurge on pizza or go out for ice cream with her kids, she grows weary of telling them “no” every time they ask for something. She prays that her kids wont get hurt or sick so she wont miss work. Missing one week of work would likely mean eviction for them.

Victoria has contemplated getting a part-time job to help boost her income, but any job that she can work on weekends will only pay minimum wage, and then she would also have to have more childcare expense, more fuel and likely more expense due to work clothing needs/shoes, etc. After factoring her expenses she decides that a part-time job wouldn’t bring home enough to make it worth while as well as the fact that she would then only see her two children 3 nights a week. Victoria uses her family’s Permanent Fund Dividend and income tax return each year to buy new tires and maintain her car (including annual taxes, insurance, etc), fund birthday and holiday gifts for her children and purchase clothing & shoes. Without their PFD and income tax return she wouldn’t be able to afford these things.

A more sustainable rent amount for Victoria’s earnings would be $300-400 per month. Having $350-400 dollars extra each month to use for necessities and she would be able to save a little money each month and perhaps come out ahead at the end of the year. But, there are simply no rental options available in that price range. None.

But what if Victoria had a tiny house? What if she had the ability to own her own home, to have the chance to live within her means and even prosper with her income? What if she wouldn’t have to rely on government assistance to simply get by? What would her life be like if her financial outlook wasn’t so grim?

What would Alaska look like if the majority of her citizens were stable? What would America look like?

Mother Jones: Room for Improvement

Housing First is a viable option to end chronic homelessness. We see if working in places like Salt Lake City, UT and Santa Clara County, CA, Cutting the costs per person in half (homelessness costs cities through the services that get utilized like police, social services, hospital and emergency care, etc) and opening up new avenues for treatment for those who want it.

“Ironically, ending homelessness is actually cheaper than continuing to treat the problem. This would not only benefit the people who are homeless; it would be healing for the rest of us to live in a more compassionate and just nation,” Tsemberis says. “It’s not a matter of whether we know how to fix the problem. Homelessness is not a disease like cancer or Alzheimer’s where we don’t yet have a cure. We have the cure for homelessness—it’s housing. What we lack is political will.”

Read the entire article here.

Our home and tiny house network is growing!

The
BIG
Tiny House
Movement…

The Sustainability Revolution with Seth Mansur

It is so nice to meet so many others interested in the tiny house movement and building community. We have made wonderful progress on our home, and may even be able to move in by mid May up from my earlier estimate of June 1st!!!

We have learned a lot from my father Jon who has been the leader making it all happen. It is amazing to see how efficient days are when he is here, compared to my endless puttering to get something done…

For anyone interested in seeing our building plans and pictures in addition to those on this blog, feel free to explore our public google drive folder we are regularly adding to:

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B6WGsAhfljFxflhHY2dRRHZ3UW9uWjNtY2hDT0pJclRad2FnY21iMnc2aVdLZnZ1YWhIZEk&usp=sharing

And here are a couple pictures of recent progress on our home:

In addition to the physical building of our tiny house, we are using this as an opportunity to connect with as…

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Plumb in the sun

Looking forward to our first build! In the near future!

tinyportland

Good morning!

It’s Monday, and although I am not too excited for the start of another work week, I am thankful for the progress that was made on the tiny house build this weekend. Even with our primary builder Dusty getting pulled away to another job site, we managed to get all of the walls up and framed 4 of the 13 windows!

IMG_0795

We are really excited to see the house take shape as the pile of construction materials begin to dwindle. It’s also encouraging to see that our estimates for building supplies has been really close to what we are actually using.At this point we have a few items to return, but very little waste.

We got a lot done, but might have been able to get even more done if we hadn’t changed the size of the kitchen window at the last minute, causing a little bit of…

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10 Facts About Homelessness: Fact 7

 

Still in the affordable housing vein, Fact 7 highlights the housing crisis and unemployment crisis we have been facing for the past several years.
Fact7

Unemployment is down nationwide, yes, according to the numbers. The reality is that people are qualifying for less time, no extensions, and required to fill out work search requirements in order to prove you’re trying to find work. But finding work here on the Kenai that can support a family can be difficult. Tourist season is imminent and along with the summer months comes increased job opportunities as employers ramp up for the extra business in months ahead. Unfortunately the same time period sees a dramatic increase in rents for many available properties. And most of these jobs are temporary and low pay.