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Could 'Tiny Houses' Help Chicago's Homeless? Alderman Wants To Find Out

A "tiny home" that could make its way to Chicago.
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Twitter/Marisa Novara

CITY HALL — An alderman Tuesday asked his colleagues to hold hearings on whether a solution to ending homelessness in Chicago could lie in one of the hottest home design trends of the moment.

Ald. Ed Burke (14th) wants his colleagues to hold a hearing to decide whether Chicago should follow the lead of Portland, Ore., and Berkeley, Calif., and launch a pilot program to test the volunteer-built 320-square-feet homes that cost just $2,000.

"These cities are testing ‘out-of-the-box' solutions to a chronic problem that all major urban centers face," Burke said in a statement. “I see no reason why Chicago should not also think and act innovatively.”

There are 5,889 men, women and children who are homeless in Chicago on any given night, according to the 2016 Chicago Homeless Count and Survey.

The Tiny House movement pushes for people to downsize their homes — including some smaller than 400 square feet.

Windy City Times publisher Tracy Baim organized a Tiny Home Summit in April to explore ways to help homeless Chicagoans.

Baim found that the costs of building affordable housing projects have risen to $350,000-$400,000 and it can take years to get the approval needed to build those units. "We are never gonna solve the problem of homelessness through that one solution."

During the summit, organizers built a test Tiny House in less than a week for less than $30,000. The 331-square-foot home included a front porch, bedroom area, bathroom, full kitchen, sofa area and storage space.