When we think about unhoused neighbors or homelessness, we tend to see it as a personal problem that is the outcome of individual weakness, errors in judgement, or the impact of life choices. In each case, we rarely think about these “individual” conditions as a consequence of social interaction. Culturally we generally don’t think about these issues sociologically, as socially constructed perceptions or structural and institutional shifts that lead to people being unhoused. Here, in this assignment, you are challenged to use your SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION to think about this situation from a social or cultural perspective.
In several cities across the U.S., villages of “tiny houses” are being erected to serve the homeless. These villages vary in the number of homeless they serve, housing between approximately ten to fifty homeless people each. Read the article and watch the video below about one of these tiny house villages, which is located in Austin, Texas. Once you are done, follow the instructions for your discussion, below.
“Can Tiny Homes Solve Homelessness?” (read)
“Home and Community for Homeless Neighbors” (view)
In this news article and video, Alan Graham, a former real estate developer and CEO of Mobile Loaves and Fishes, discusses Community First, a tiny home village which he developed in Austin, Texas, intended to serve the homeless population in that city. Graham states that Community First is based on what he calls a “relationship model.” He claims, “Housing will never solve homelessness, but community will.”
In your discussion entry, discuss what Graham means by that statement. What do you think he means by “community”?
Based on the information presented, who do you think benefits from the tiny home model – just the people that are no longer homeless who live there?
Who does Alan Graham feel is responsible for ending homelessness, and what specific roles would they take in ending homelessness?
Do you think this model if fair, or not? Explain. Support your conclusions by explaining why/why not.