Homes for Less
Christian Blyt created Homes for Less 1 as a term assignment for industrial design students at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2009. Blyt created the project because little progress was being made toward addressing homelessness in Vancouver – all public funds being spent on a small number of expensive units. The project’s tiny 64 sq ft houses, costing $1500 in materials were designed as an improvement over tents.
Although intended only as full-scale models, a homeless person actually moved into one of the mock-ups being shown on Granville Island. Eventually a few Bowen Island residents carted off the mock-ups to show their neighbours what could be done to address homelessness on Bowen.
Homes for Less 1 earned more media and web coverage than any project ever undertaken at Emily Carr. For more information see the Home for Less 1 Final Report.
Charles Dobson launched Homes for Less 2 in 2013, again as an assignment for design students at Emily Carr. Unlike the models for Homes for Less 1, the final result was a fully functional 150 sq ft tiny house with a kitchenette, marine heater, 12v power, bathroom and sleeping area. The most common comment made by people looking at the building was, “I could live in that”.
The house was eventually moved to Salt Spring Island. It was built for a total cost of $10,000 using a grant from BC Housing research.
Despite numerous invitations no councillor or staff person from Vancouver City Hall ever visited either project to discuss the potential for building a low cost tinytown to address the almost complete dearth of temporary housing. Ten years later there are few temporary housing options for people who find themselves suddenly out of work, for women who have had to exit an abusive relationship, for teens who have decided they can no longer live at home, for people from remote communities that have had to come to the city for school or medical treatment.
Individual circumstances vary widely, requiring a variety of temporary housing options – more than just shelter bed or tent.