Villages for Unhoused People Are Popping Up in More Cities. What’s It Like to Live in Them?

The creators of small-scale shelters have touted them as a short-term solution for the homelessness crisis. We spoke to three residents of micro-shelter communities in Oregon to find out how they hold up.
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On a single night in January 2022, 582,462 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States. Sixty percent were staying in locations like emergency shelters or in accommodations provided by transitional housing programs, and 40 percent were living on the street or somewhere similar, according to an annual U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report. (The pandemic impacted the accuracy of homelessness data collection in 2021, however, and the number of people without a home is likely far higher.) Meanwhile, across the country, many housing advocates and government officials are embracing a practical short-term solution to the homelessness crisis: the rapid construction of tiny-home villages—some with upward of 50 units, others with just 10 tiny homes, or pods. The hope is that with access to a personal, lockable shelter and some essential services (laundry and showers, as well as housing and employment assistance programs), unsheltered people will be able to find permanent, affordable housing quicker than if they were still fending for themselves on the streets.

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Hannah Wallace
Hannah Wallace is a Portland-based journalist who writes about food politics, sustainable agriculture, integrative medicine, and travel.


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