Grants for Grads

States have begun to use housing finance incentives to keep Millennials in state.  Check out this 2009 article from about “Grants for Grads” in Ohio:

State officials are hoping to entice recent college graduates to stay in Ohio or move back by offering money to help purchase houses.  The “Grants for Grads” program will help with down payments or closing costs and are for graduates who have recently received at least a two-year associate degree.  The catch is you must stay in Ohio for at least five years to get the full benefit and you must have graduated within the past 18 months.

At the time of the launch, Ohio Housing Finance Agency head Cindy Flaherty said:

“I think we have to be realistic and recognize that when people look for where they’re going to get a job after college, affordable housing is probably not the top thing on their list, but if they find they have an opportunity to purchase a home, put down roots in the state, they’re much more likely to stay. Once people own a home, they really made a commitment to the community.”

Spur Freedom

Despite the growing excitement around the movement, the regulations surrounding tiny house living — such as minimum square footage requirements for living accommodations — are hard to navigate in most locations.  Fortunately, Spur, Texas is making it easy for us by declaring itself the first “Tiny House Friendly Town” with an ordinance that fully legalizes tiny houses.

They even have a website dedicated to their mission:

Here’s how one blogger described the origin of the idea:

The ordinance request went something like this: Randy Adams, a well respected entrepreneur and mechanical genius in town, (can fix anything and founder of an innovative roofing application machine/system) got the idea and talked to individual council members and the mayor. He described the idea of declaring Spur a tiny house friendly town and everyone was immediately intrigued. The key is small town, young people moving away, infrastructure for 3,000 but supporting only 900 or so, everyone concerned about maintaining their town, (of which they are immensely proud) and wanting a strategy to do so that also includes bringing the right kind of people. Well, the profile of 20 to 40 something, tech savvy, self sufficiency minded, energetic, polite people fits right in there, so, no big problem there.

All you have to do to get legal in Spur is drop the wheels — they even have a Tiny House Welcoming Team to help you do it:

In order for a tiny house trailer to find legal residence within the city limits of Spur, Texas – as approved by city council – the THT owner will have 30 days to contact the unofficial ‘Tiny House Welcoming Team’ to get in contact with a contractor or local business who can set the tiny house on a more permanent foundation.

The move has already attracted at least one family, who blogged about their tiny house move to Spur. Follow along with this tiny house legalization experiment at the Spur Freedom blog.

The commune is back, with a startup twist

The commune is back, with a startup twist and $7.3 million to spend.  Fast Company has a new article on Common, a new startup that leases apartments and turns them into co-housing communities:

Common members will pay on a month-to-month basis to stay in rooms throughout a network of houses for which the company provides shared items like pots and pans, living room furniture, and toilet paper; coordinates utilities like Wi-Fi and house cleaning; and plans community events like potluck dinners.

Common is trying to solve a problem that is familiar to Millennial city dwellers:

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 1.03.25 AMThe problem that Common aims to solve is compelling: In addition to being expensive, finding a solo apartment in a market like New York City often comes with requirements that recent college graduates aren’t likely to meet—two years of tax returns showing a high salary, big bank accounts, or even just being in the city to attend in-person open houses. “Coliving” provides an alternative to finding roommates on Craigslist, and big players like WeWork have plans to pursue the business.

On their website, they promise:

Community: Common communities feature regular talks, dinners, gatherings, and other places to meet your fellow residents and neighbors.

Flexibility: Move between Common communities – or leave the network entirely – with only a month’s notice.

Security: Leave the roommate search behind. Every member of Common has been vetted and endorsed by a member of the community.

Millennial housing dreamers are wondering: Can Common succeed where other recent co-housing startups, like Campus, have failed?

Tiny house neighborhoods for the unhoused

We at the Millennial House Lab are huge supporters of a recent trend to house the unhoused with tiny house neighborhoods.

A great example is Quixote Village in Olympia, Washington:

Quixote Village grew from the vision of a self-governing tent camp of homeless adults in Olympia, Washington.  The Village consists of 30 tiny cottages, a large vegetable garden and a community building that contains showers, laundry facilities, a communal kitchen and living and dining space.  Village residents moved from Camp Quixote to the Village on Christmas Eve, 2013.

Two things stand out about the Village.  First, its neighborhood design, which houses residents around a central shared area:

quixote villageThe second is the self-government of the neighborhood:

The tradition of resident self-government began with the founding of Camp Quixote – a tent camp for homeless adults – in 2007.  The first residents established a simple code of conduct that all residents agreed to live by.

In the six+ years of the Camp’s existence, residents interviewed and voted on whom to admit to the Camp, and when to expel someone who didn’t follow the rules.  They also elected leaders every six months, and the leaders assigned chores, collected dues of $20 a month and managed the funds to provide paper plates, and other supplies.

Read more about Quixote in their New York Times feature from last year.