It Takes a Village: Designating “Tiny House” Villages as Transitional Housing Campgrounds
Published: 2017 | Ciara Turner | University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform
A relatively new proposal to reduce homelessness in the United States involves extraordinarily small dwellings. While the “tiny house” movement is intuitively appealing and has found sporadic success, strict housing codes, building codes, and zoning laws often destroy the movement before it can get off the ground. One possibility for getting around these zoning and building code challenges, without drastic overhauls to health and safety codes, is to create a new state-level zoning classification of “transitional campgrounds.” A new zoning classification would alleviate the issue because campgrounds are consistently subject to less strict building codes, which could permit tiny houses as temporary living quarters. Creating “transitional campgrounds” gives discretion to local level policy makers, allowing for action that reflects the true needs of the local community. In some states, municipalities may be able to implement this proposed regulation directly. With appropriate legislative reform and community support, tiny house villages can be an affordable, alternative temporary housing accommodation option. Part I of this Note discusses the background of the tiny house movement, including an overview of the applicable zoning, building, and housing codes, along with various state laws. Part II explains the difficulties posed by the current regulatory scheme, and Part III proposes a statute designed to alleviate those challenges that could, ideally, be adopted at the state level.