Ongoing Support for Fred

As you all know, we built a house for Fred in December.  She is living there now and doing okay.  There are a number of things that you should all know.  Firstly, she looks better and seems to be doing better all the way around since we lifted her off the ground.  So we did a good thing.  I do not want to invade her privacy, but at the same time I think that it is important that we recognize that the situation that brought her to this is connected to her mental health and so there are things that she will and will not allow which might be a little unusual to those of us who are mentally well.

I share this because it is important to know that she rejected a few pieces of her build.  She did not want to have hooks to hang her coat and other items, she also rejected the smoke and carbon monoxide tester.  Further to this, she also did not want to have a kitchen cupboard to cook on and also did not want to have a butane cooker.  She also did not want to have a propane stove for heating.

This said, without the smoke and carbon monoxide tester, a butane cooker or propane heat would be NOT be safe.  Frankly, I am not sure that it would be the best idea to trust her to manage the stove anyway.  I would not want the very house that we built in order to give her some degree of safety, to be the thing that killed her because she is unable to take care of the heat situation properly due to her mental health.

So this is a bind isn’t it?

However, the important thing to note here is that how she has chosen to heat and cook as well as to warm water for personal hygiene is with candles.   The candles which work best for her area available at Walmart.  There are two kinds which she uses.  The first are jumbo tea light candles which are $9.99 for a large package.  The others are in a jar scented candles there are small ones for $1 each.  These are placed in the two metal containers that we got her and are on a table so they are contained just as they would be in your own home.  I feel that she manages this well.  However, this also means that she has an $80/month bill for candles which given the fact that this is her heat, light and cooking and since she pays no rent on her house it is not such a terrible living expense but it is not great either!

Also there is the issue of her needing to eat, clean her house and also have some dignity, which for her is having containers of water to clean herself and her home, doing laundry, and wearing a little bit of makeup.

Getting to the point, last night I brought her to Walmart for groceries, cleaning supplies, water, and candles. The bill was  $414.97 and I will also bring her to do laundry tomorrow which will be another $30 or so dollars I imagine.

There was (until last evening) a small surplus in the account that was set up to get her house built however, there have been no further donations to help support her.

Unfortunately, I cannot afford to support her so I am hoping that some of you might be willing and able to donate.  If so you can do do here: https://www.youcaring.com/fundraiser-widget.aspx?frid=480688“>FRED’s HOUSE

If you are in the Hamilton Area and you would LIKE to donate but do not feel comfortable donating cash please consider dropping by Walmart to pick up some jumbo tealight candles, some jarred scented candles, an LED camping light with batteries, bottled water, canned food or gift cards for Walmart or Tim Hortons.  She is allergic to nuts so please no peanut butter!  If this is your preference to you please write to me here or on Facebook and we can work together to get these items to her.

Thank you to all of you who are invested in her well being!

<3 L

 

Categories: Tiny House Ontario | 17 Comments

Anyone???

Thank you Alain for sharing this with us.

Another tiny house community is going in in the USA.  This is exactly what I am talking about! In fact, the image of this community is almost exactly the way that I would envision a pilot community in Hamilton (or anywhere, really) would look.

You all know why the USA is doing this? Because it works! It is sustainable not just for the planet, but also for the tax payer. It is also a beautiful way to live for human beings that have been dehumanized by their poverty and other issues, such as mental illness, grief, and the threat of eviction… It is an affordable way for people – ALL PEOPLE – to live. It allows dignity, in an inexpensive and sustainable way.  These tiny houses are reminiscent of the early settlers places except with conveniences and that they allow people survival when they have nothing (or wish to thrive using very little resources).

Hamilton needs this, but really all of the major cities that have a housing crisis and or homeless crisis need this!

So let me put this out there. If you are the mayor/leader/person in charge of any community in Ontario that has a housing or homeless crisis. Or if you work for the city and have the ear of the leader you have please share this.  I am putting out a call to any community in Ontario that will have us.

What we need is a serviced building near the downtown core that is usable and has a yard that is about an acre and a half, or larger, in size.  We also need cooperation, the machines and manpower required to put in the pigtail infrastructure for septic and water to a bunch of tiny houses.  Mostly we need the good will of your leadership and community

This structure must be suitable for myself and other volunteers to stay in while we build and it will eventually house the staff you hire, laundry facilities and a common area,

I would also donate my skills as a fund raiser and I am sure that I could raise 100,000. Lowes has already shown their interest, as well as my almost half a million reader and solid volunteer base.

Contact me if you are interested. You can do so here or at my blog. There are a lot of details to iron out, of course – but we can do this! It is not so hard and it is not so expensive!

The structure you donate to this cause could even potentially be a proceeds of crime building that you have acquired.  This would certainly bring the cost of housing your homeless down, right?

What I would like is to build thirty 200 – 300 square foot houses, up to code (unless you have arbitrary size requirements which you will have to arrange to be omitted for the purpose of this pilot), each would have a small but full bathroom, bedroom, kitchen/dining/living room as well as a linen closet, bedroom closet and a porch.  Similar to this:12376014_1251709674842907_7678219045636213123_n

Even if the cost of these houses were 10K each, the cost of 30 houses is just 300,000!  This would bring 30 people (more if you choose any couples) off the street.  I am willing to do fundraising, bring in volunteers and find companies who are willing to donate.

Anyone who has a community that fits, a house and a little power – let me start this pilot for your people!  You can contact me here.

 

Categories: Tiny House Ontario | 24 Comments

Harumph!

Before the Christmas holidays I sent a letter out to Mr. Ted McMeekin who is the Minister for Housing in Ontario.  Here is some of what I said:

 

… For the last number of years however, I been heavily involved in the tiny house community as a writing activist. It is due to these cross overs perhaps, that I have come to understand that tiny house communities are a perfect solution for many members of the homeless community. Due to your recent article in the Anvil, I felt that I really must touch base with you.

While many communities now have tiny house communities that serve the most vulnerable sectors of our society, it is the work that has been done in Dallas Texas that I think touches on all of the key factors. I invite you to read this article.
https://www.yahoo.com/realestate/tiny-home-village-in-dallas-1322025837772854.html?soc_src=mail&soc_trk=ma

I am not sure if you have heard, but I recently, I spearheaded the build of a tiny house in Hamilton Ontario for a homeless woman named Fred. This tiny house is NOT a house. What it is, exactly, is a very small insulated room, with no amenities. But the community around Fred’s house has spoken loud and clear, dozens of neighbours came over to thank us as we built this little place for her. They have been supporting her financially since she arrived there months ago and moved under a pile of pallets. They bring her food, gifts, money, cigarettes. …. This “tiny house – insulated room”, with a locked door and a window is not the solution, but it is, at the very least a significantly better solution than having her sleep in a pile of pallets on the ground. You can see more about Fred’s House on my blog, the link is below and most of my posts have been about her for the last two weeks.

The thing is, that this little project to build a $2000 shelter for one, it touched the hearts of so many people. Lowes has let me know that they want to sponsor us for as many as we can build – and this is your riding. This means, materials at cost and some things thrown in. Fred’s house is good, I think, but it is not great. It seems to me that we can find a significantly better solution! I feel that for $5000 per unit, land and cooperation from the city that we could build a community of these houses up to code (except size). Any existing house that has a large yard, that is central – close to shopping and services, and that can be rezoned for multi occupancy would be a perfect solution. The existing house could act as the laundry, office space for counsellors and a spare room for the guests of a community and the community itself could be built around it. 20 or thirty tiny houses would make for a great pilot project. These houses should be 200 square feet (I have attached a sample floor plan), they should be built to code but pigtail off of the existing structure for water, power and sewage.

My questions: What do you think? Can you find us some space? Can you edit the zoning for size and can we do this? Can we strike while the iron is hot?
With kind regards,
Laura

__________________

The response I got back was swift.  In less than two hours he wrote back from his blackberry.

___________________

Thanks so much for your thoughtful aand hopefully helpful note. I will pass it on to key people in my Ministry and our government for their review.

Regards of the Christmas/holiday season.

Kindest regards…….ted

 

___________________

Then this harumph – AKA: brush off letter arrived yesterday.

January 6, 2016

Dear Ms. Moreland:

I am writing to thank you for sharing information about tiny house communities with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Our government believes that every Ontarian deserves to have a stable, affordable home. Stable and secure housing is a key factor that determines social well-being and health. This includes access to education and employment, as well as the resources and supports that people need to thrive. That is why we developed our Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy in 2010; it was the first strategy of its kind for Ontario, and I am proud of the real impact it has had.

Our Poverty Reduction Strategy committed our government to update the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy. Our vision for the updated housing strategy is that “every person has an affordable, suitable, and adequate home to provide the foundation to secure employment, raise a family, and build strong communities.”

Our government is updating the strategy to reflect lessons learned and new research on best practices related to housing and preventing homelessness. This includes exploring a range of approaches to encourage the private sector to develop more affordable housing. The strategy update will ensure that we continue to make progress on a system of housing and homelessness prevention, which meets the housing needs of Ontarians.

I invite you to read more about our update to the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy on our website. The link to our portal can be found at: http://www.ontario.ca/affordablehousing.

In Ontario, municipal Service Managers – such as the City of Hamilton – are responsible for managing local housing and homelessness prevention systems, as they know their communities best. I encourage you to contact City of Hamilton Housing Services to discuss the ideas presented in the materials you have provided. They can be reached at:

Housing Services Division
City of Hamilton
350 King Street East, Unit 110
Hamilton, ON L8N 3Y3
Tel: (905) 546-2424
http://www.hamilton.ca

Once again, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this issue with me.

Best regards,

Ted McMeekin
Minister
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

minister.mah@ontario.ca

____________________

So…  I wonder if Hamilton Housing Services is interested?

I think they should be given the stats   when you look at these numbers and compare them to other cities you will be that Hamilton is really falling short.

Thoughts…

Tiny houses are not just sustainable and a place that allows people like me to enjoy more free time because of the low cost of living in them.  They are a perfect solution for very low income people.  One can build a no frills tiny house for very little money – If you can hook up to electricity for heat – and also water and sewage systems they are very easy to live in.  We must pressure our government at every single level.

 

Any more thoughts from you?

Categories: Tiny House Ontario | 24 Comments

Lüften

How do you deal with the humidity inside of your tiny house?   This question is always on the lips of tiny housers!  Sadly, most of us don’t address this issue until after we have already built.  There are a lot of solutions, some require expensive modifications.  BUT… there is an easy solution… just adapt to the life you have chosen.

What I suggest is a TINY change in your routine called Lüften.

pik_fenster

I learned to do this when I lived in a tiny apartment in Munich, Germany. The climate there is frequently raining and apartments walls and windows drip with moisture after a meal is cooked, after a shower and a sort of interior dampness can overtake and become mould* (*mold, if you are American).  If you already live in a tiny house this sort of sounds familiar, right???

The Bavarians practice of Lüften (airing/ventilating) rooms is something I use again, now that I live in a tiny house several months of the year.  It is necessary just as I had when I lived in Germany.

Lüften literally translated is “to air” and essentially the practice is to renew the air in the room on a regular basis. This means that you simply open your windows, for five minutes each time (more in the warm months).

Here is a chart on how long to open your windows

Not just one window but enough windows that there is a draft through your house.  The colder the weather the shorter the Lüften time.  Please note that short transverse ventilation should not cool down the core heat in your house, even in a tiny house.  The objective is NOT to remove core heat, but just to exchange the air.  One needs to Lüften three to four times per day and also while you are cooking and immediately after showering.  So all you need to do is open and close your windows a few times a day?  YUP!  Certainly easier than the process of downsizing, right?

There are other tips too when it comes to Lüften.  You cannot ventilate continuously when you are heating a room – just three to five minutes.  Also be sure to pull back your curtains.  Quit all use of humidifiers or any electronic air dampers.  Try not to place furniture directly by the exterior walls. If the space permits, keep furniture 5 cm away from the wall so it can breathe too.  Buy a hygrometer, they are about $10 (and up) if you want to be sure. Whenever the humidity hits 65 or 70%, open up the windows and let moisture out.  Also, while this does not apply to a tiny house but it may if you have a small house or any separate rooms if there are rooms that you don’t heat, keep the door between them closed, so that the temperature differences don’t create steam.

So… what I mean is that you don’t need to add holes to your house, nor do you need to buy anything expensive.  A hygrometer is about the only thing that you really need. One simply must be aware that damp can be an issue so welcome this as a tiny adaptation.

Just let your house breathe.

Breathe!

Breathe!

Categories: Tiny House Ontario | 1 Comment

Fred’s Community

I got a trouble call last night, there are people working in the area and they have reported Fred’s house and we worry now that she will be moved.

It is so troubling.

It has me worried.  So I have been down to check on her today 8 times, just going by, not bugging her.  I want to be sure that she is safe and that no one is messing with her.  It is cold today here so this last trip, I brought Fred a warm meal.  She is inside with no coat, so it is warm inside, and this made me feel really happy.  Just the candle heater and her body is enough to keep it comfortable when we are hovering around zero.

This morning an email came from one of the volunteers who also made a donation.  This morning she arrived at work and found that there is boy who is living in the dumpster at her work place.  She asked if he could be next.  He needs a house too she said.  I wonder if this community can do it again?  This time, it will cost less because Lowes wants to help us.

Do you know, when we (myself and the other volunteers) were there building Fred’s house, so many of her neighbours stopped to say that they help her.  It was beautiful as far as I am concerned.  And today again after worrying the last 15 hours away, I arrived to find that there are Christmas gifts left for Fred outside her house. Little bags of wrapped gifts, beautiful hand knitted mittens, toiletries.  Thoughtful gifts, given with love.

I spoke to Fred just a moment giving her the food and she thanked me.  But then I went to the car and I cried.  You know these small kindnesses make me weep. Her neighbours there care about her. I hope we can find a way to help her stay.

We turned the corner to come home and there was a homeless man using two cups to get water out of a puddle.  We stopped and got him something to eat and a Tim’s card but he did not want this, but took the Tim’s card to give to someone else, he said.  He shook our hands and blessed us.

He blessed us.

If any of this has you thinking about what you can do what about a blessing bag filled with things like this?

7f10401316ca7aaa34c37d1ecdb9d88a

Care package for homeless neighbours. Please also include a card so they can get a hot meal.

What else can you do… Write to your leaders and show your approval of this. your local counsellor, your mayor, the MP, the MPP, the minister of housing, the Prime Minister. Copy them all. Ask for more. While Fred’s house is a GOOD bandaid solution… in that living in an insulated room with a door and window beats living in a pile of pallets, what is needed is lots of small (200 -400 square foot) up to code housing with running water and toilets. We are a rich nation but we have left behind the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society. We not only forget them but we make structures that are small/tiny and affordable illegal. This MUST stop. Poor and vulnerable people need to live in dignity and safety as well.

Categories: Tiny House Ontario | 9 Comments

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