Tiny homes proposed for homeless in Richmond pilot project

Richmond city leaders are debating a way to help ease the city's homeless problem. Tuesday the city council heard the first official reading of a proposed ordinance from the mayor about a pilot project that would put homeless people in tiny houses on wheels.

"It’s a very quick and relatively inexpensive to provide transitional housing for a homeless person," says Richmond Mayor Tom Butt.

He says as of the beginning of this year there were more than 100 homeless people living on Richmond streets.  Like other cities in the Bay Area that number could easily grow. That's why city leaders are looking at options like the tiny house as a place for those in need.

"This is not an opportunity for somebody to put one of these in there to put anybody in. We want to put the person who is truly homeless in it," says Butt. 

This tiny house was built by students at U.C. Berkeley as part of a contest.  

Although this isn't the house that will be used for Richmond’s pilot program.

The concept of a tiny house on wheels is the same. 

"We were aware of plans to use tiny houses as homeless housing and are still kind of keyed into that potential for future versions of this house," says UC Berkeley Ph.D. student Ian Bolliger. 

The pilot program allows six of the transitional homes to be constructed or placed in the city of Richmond.  If successful that number may increase.  One potential drawback is where the tiny house will be placed.

"They could be on a residential lot. They could be on a commercial or industrial lot. As long as the utilities are there to hook into," says Butt. 

If the ordnance passes the first reading, it will go before city council a second time and if it clears that hurdle the city could start locating and bring in tiny homes by the end of August.