‘Transitional Housing’ Tiny Home Village Starts Construction

Homelessness is a major problem in many communities across the United States. Affordable housing projects like this one could help change that.

Courtesy of Bernalillo County

Back in 2016, voters in Albuquerque approved funds for a bold plan by the city to assist its homeless population. The idea was innovative: Build a village of tiny homes that could serve as transitional housing, giving the homeless a safe living space while they attempted to stabilize their lives.

Four years later, construction on that community of tiny homes has officially begun.

“I’m just saying that it is a miracle,” said Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley to KOAT News. “People asked me how I felt, and I said, ‘I am elated and terrified at the same time.’ ”

In the United States, the term “tiny house” typically refers to any living structure less than 400 sq. ft. Each housing unit in the Albuquerque village will be large enough for a bed, storage and a desk. Residents will share several community buildings including a kitchen, laundry and restroom facilities. The Bernalillo County government estimates that the combined cost of design and construction for the project will be around $3.5 million.

The county and the city of Albuquerque have worked closely with Square One Villages, a non-profit out of Eugene, Oregon with experience developing this kind of transitional community.

“We’re just trying to get people off of the street, to give them the most basic shelter,” said Dan Bryant, executive director of SquareOne Villages. “A place that is secure and safe to help them get their life back together.”

The Albuquerque Tiny Home Village will incorporate suggestions and advice from SquareOne into the development and operation of their own community. Resident must apply to live in the fenced-in village and agree to live by its rules, which include a strict no-alcohol, no-drug policy.

“There were some people who suggested putting it out on the outskirts and far away from the city and those kinds of things, but we thought that’s not going to make it successful,” O’Malley said.

During the project’s development, O’Malley and the city council scouted and vetted more than 40 potential locations before being approached by Mary Garcia, executive director of the Albuquerque Indian Center. Garcia suggested the tiny home village be built on the property around the Indian Center, which was vacant and met the city council’s criteria:

  • Within 3/8 mile from public transportation;
  • Services accessible;
  • Access to water, sewer and electricity;
  • At least 1-to-3 acres, for roughly 25-to-30 homes per acre.

The contractor on the project, Epic Mountain Construction, received notice to proceed in January. They broke ground at the Albuquerque Indian Center on March 10th. With the support of the local neighborhood, construction on the tiny home village can now begin in earnest.