Tiny Homes for the Homeless is a Good Starting Point

Allentown City Council is considering a proposal by Operation Address The Homeless (OATH) to construct a village of tiny homes to support Lehigh Valley’s homeless population. While Hope Village Allentown is not a complete solution to the widespread problems of homelessness and poverty, it is certainly a step in the right direction.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), over 500,000 Americans experience homelessness each night. This is not only a national problem, however. HUD also reports that 13,000 Pennsylvanians experience homelessness on any given night.

Besides providing shelter and a locking door, the Village would offer resources to overcome some of the biggest barriers faced by the homelessness. Lack of a mailing address is a significant barrier, because an address is often required for job applications, resumes, and social aid such as unemployment or welfare. Lack of identification is another barrier, and OATH’s proposal includes assisting members with obtaining a legal ID. Members would also have access to healthcare.

Critics of this proposal point out that the Village is not a long-term solution, and might reinforce stigmas around already marginalized groups. However, OATH’s presentation clarifies that Hope Village is intended to be a short term solution to help homeless men, women, and families integrate into the community. Members are required to participate in weekly programs, such as counseling, drug and alcohol services, or GED classes.

Other requirements like creating a bank account, working, saving money, and paying rent (that is returned to them later) would all help prepare people to become more independent.

According to OATH’s proposal, the shelters are “a stepping stone out of personal crisis and into a life of stability.” While it’s not a complete solution, Hope Village Allentown would provide families with the resources and support they need.