Atlanta Huts for Houston’s Homeless

ATLANTA HUTS FOR HOUSTON’S HOMELESS At yesterday’s meeting new city council member Jack Christie distributed descriptions of prefab huts and “low riders” produced by an Atlanta organization called Mad Housers, suggesting that similar structures — privately funded — could be used in Houston as they are in Atlanta: as shelters for homeless people. “You don’t see the sleeping bags out there, the newspapers,” Christie told reporter Chris Moran afterward. “These have a lock on the door so you have a sense of security.” The huts, which the Atlanta organization stresses are not intended as permanent housing, measure 6 ft. by 8 ft. with 12-ft. ceilings, and feature a sleeping loft, a locking door, and a wood-burning stove for heat and cooking. The “low riders” are 4 ft. by 8 ft. with only 4-ft. ceilings; they’re meant to allow residents to keep their shelters on the down-low, below vegetation lines or other screening objects where they wouldn’t want them to be too conspicuous. These smaller units come with a separate 4x4x4 storage box. [Houston Politics; Mad Housers] Photo: Mad Housers

38 Comment

  • Wow – that sounds a lot like “home”…

  • Wood hut and wood burning stove. Sounds brilliant. I say we place the first batch in Hermann Square.

  • I wonder if the low riders are available with 6 month leases as opposed to year long? They are transients after all.

  • Where in Atlanta do they place them?

  • I think I see more of “Your Tax Dollars At Work”.

  • Years ago there was this homeless camp where the sabine lofts apartment are at. Out war like a little forest and they did have makeshift shacks and I hired a guy off the street for some painting. He lived there and I brought net one time and stood around a 55 gallon drum burning trash because it was cold. The guys seemed happier than other transients in the area. And I ended up renting them a tint apartment after he and his girlfriend got more work. So it was indeed temporary housing for them and they moved on. Then he got on the crack andi had to kick him out

  • Jack Christie’s comment aside, it sounds like “permanent housing” to me. Possession 9/10ths of the law and all…

    Will eviction notices be required?

  • There are so many problems with this that I don’t know where to start.

  • First we had the ‘poor baby’ bunch that kept the mentally ill and the drug addicts out of hostpials so they could get treatment, then the same group got laws changed to give them access to public property and they could not be jailed or treated, now the same group wants them housed on our dollar, not theirs! They are there by their own choices.

  • picture a group of a hundred or so on one of the park grounds, then one small fire in one spreads and kills 20 or 30 of the addicts. Then the lawsuits for unsafe housing by the leach lawyers.

  • Sounds like a meth lab hut.

  • The meth lab hut feature a stove & a lock on the door for “security”

  • “on the down low” is an unfortunate choice of words, IMO!

  • Is there a crescent moon painted on the door?

  • uh, potties?

  • Wow. What a delightful group of people this post has attracted.

  • Well at least it’s an idea. Sure, there’s some details to work out. It looks like this group has attempted to answer some of these questions – – on their website. And a meth lab can be anywhere. I’m sure there’s probably someone cooking crank in some spacious suburban home right now.

  • This has got to be the worst idea I have ever heard of. You want a homeless “community” fine, go find an island….in the middle of the pacific.

    It seems no matter where the transients go there is always trash and junk left behind. Lets call a spade a spade, it is an eyesore, peice-of-garbage-glorified port-potti with a bed. Now imagine 30 of them lined up, it becomes eye cancer.

    Even then its not just about it being unsightly. I’m sorry, I can sypmathize with people being on hard times, but hard times don’t last for years and years. I see the same homeless day after day, year after year, in my neigborhood not showing any effort to make their lives better. By placing the shacks around town I see them as nothing more than a city endorsement to continue the same type of behavior.

    On a side note: So when the shacks are about to get torn down will the Swamplot preservationist begin jumping up and down about saving Houston “history”?

  • This is Houston. A few of the bigger ones would be cantinas with 12 year old prostitutes working inside within a week.

    Wouldn’t the city possibly be liable for what goes on inside a structure it provides to the homeless?

    It just seems like a bad idea.

  • The City needs to get creative. Homeless people include those who won’t work no matter what and those who will. Offer those who will the huts. Example; bandit signs are a citywide problem. Give homeless people huts for the rent of 5 signs per day. Give them a laminated badge with the City’s logo and the name of their group (BABS-Bums Against Bandit Signs..?) Reward good deeds, not degeneration.

  • Sigh, WordPress – eating my comments. Which were that with all the architecture nerds on this blog, I can’t believe no one has pointed out that this is a logical extension of the oh-so-hip small house movement. Dwell magazine, eat your heart out!

    Seriously though, everyone deserves a warm, safe place to sleep. The question is, on what land?

  • They fight over cardboard boxes now. Can you imagine what they’d do for one of these?

  • Too stupid.
    How about highly starched sleeping bags, weighted at the feet? With optional umbrella attachment.

  • A generous lot amongst your readers. The homeless are there not by choice, but lack there of. Yes, there are legal problems. Certainly that should stop all those “Christians” from doing anything to help those dirty louts. They must be related to the Occupy Commies.

    I do not suggest taking in the mentally ill and drug addicted homeless, but basic housing and the means to build it, clean it, and make it reasonably safe is called being humane. When the greedy succeed in destroying our economy and the entire US population of elderly are homeless and dying in the streets, I’m guess someone might send these commentors to Dubai, so they can hang out with their fellow psychopathic and rich kindred spirits.

  • Greg. Really. Homeless people housed in plywood privies?
    There are tried-and-true subsistance models – like work farms and kibitzes – if government really wants to tackle this problem.
    But they don’t.

  • “There are tried-and-true subsistance models – like work farms and kibitzes – if government really wants to tackle this problem.
    But they don’t.”

    movocelot, I’ll agree they don’t want a solution, but work farms and kibitzes? Are you kidding? I think Hitler tried work farms and kibitzes are great for 20 year olds. Small subsistence housing is growing and is far better than living under a bridge or on a park bench. These are not highly motivated young people, but people with really deep issues beyond money. Many just want to be left alone. They are portable and easily and cheaply rebuilt. They outshine any other ideas put into use, because there have been none put into use.

    When there is no motivation to solve the real health and psychological issues, looking at cheap and easy aids is probably the most practical idea.

  • From Greg:
    A generous lot amongst your readers. The homeless are there not by choice, but lack there of.

    But some are there by choice. And some by chance after they violated HUD rules and decided to turn their subsidized apartment into a meth lab or a “massage parlor.” Lots of really not nice people out on the streets. Who are, well, “undesireable.” As for those who are there by circumstance rather than choice or chance the city could have set aside HUD funds to buy the complexes that the city wants to demolish and offer apartments to them until they can get on subsidized housing or get back on their feet. But the city has never really care much about the homeless. And believe everyone is there by choice. Or by chance. And not by circumstance. As for this latest “possible solution” be assured the mayor and city council are fast at work preparing an ordinance to ban them. If they could ban homeless people, they would.

  • Matt Mystery,

    What is your basis for saying some are there by choice? They broke HUD rules so we should treat them like animals? Utter nonsense. Those that are there may well be undesirable because of mental illness, criminal behaviors and drug/alcohol addiction. These are mostly not chosen. They are behaviors of sick individuals in a stressful society.

    Everyone has an opinion, but uninformed opinions are not facts. The real truth is they mostly need intensive and perhaps lifelong care. Us, the compassionate, civilized citizens aren’t willing to pay for that. I suppose many rationalize it by saying we are better than them.

    I doubt this will ever be done in a way that accommodates many of the homeless, but it’s a relatively cheap and good idea.

  • I have a feeling that “living” in one of these would come with more rules and regulations than homeless folks would like.

    Some homeless prefer the streets and sidewalks to shelters already. And shelters have indoor plumbing. And rules.

  • Wherever justification for denying fellow human beings basic necessities gets you through the night, right.

  • If some want to sleep on the sidewalk instead of walking inside a shelter, that is their choice, right?

    I don’t believe that a wooden box with a lock on it is equal to basic necessities.


    Wood Burning Stove….YES

    We use a wood burning stove for heat in our old country cabin and believe me, it ain’t the best. Either too hot or not hot enough. Plus, you gotta have WOOD to burn. Plus, it needs to be vented to the outside.

    There are just so many things that could go wrong with this concept.

    Unless maybe they could set some up in the Yale Walmart parking lot. That might work. /sarcasm

  • Yeah, we should ban grills and BBQ. Someone might start a fire.

  • If you exclude the mentally ill and the drug addicted, I doubt you would need to build many of these huts.

    Mel – discussing the lack of merit for a really bad idea doesn’t mean you want to deprive people of the “basic necessities” (which this poorly conceived idea does not provide).

  • @jules As to merits, something is usually better than nothing. Talking it to death in circular arguments doesn’t help anyone. My point is no one will support what is really needed. That, we know quite well.

  • I’ve got a better idea: Housing First facilities.

    Standard homeless shelters require that the homeless get off drugs or have their mental health issues treated before they can move in. That’s often difficult for the homeless to do, so they stay on the streets. Housing first lets them move in, and THEN they get the treatment they need. It’s all done on-site, so there’s no impact to neighbors. (You can’t say that about Jack Christie’s shacks).
    Houston’s got the pieces in place to get Housing First. We’ve got the Beacon downtown, which serves as a day-center for the Homeless. Star of Hope operates an emergency shelter. The Housing Corporation of Houston builds longer-term SRO type shelters. In a Housing First model, these three groups would work together to provide facilities that actually help the homeless rebuild their lives. It’s a much better solution than Christie’s shacks, and it shouldn’t cost the City any money if they do it right.

  • Excellent blog and response, thanks Citizen Architect.

  • @35

    Very good. Thanks for sharing. Is it likely to happen any time soon?

  • I’d like one for my cats. They deserve a nice pet house of their own. (but no wood burning, please.) As an aside, I lived in something that size when I stayed at a monastery and it was called a “cell.” It was horribly hot and VERY difficult to maneuver in. I was only in it a week; I can’t image living in one any longer. Those things are just fire traps not fit for man ner beast — but maybe two sweet little cats. :)