This past weekend, a coalition of homeless individuals and members of Occupy Madison built a community of tiny houses in downtown Madison, Wisconsin.
All in all, three small houses have been built, and the Huffington Post reports that one couple and two others will reside in the small abodes.
The houses were built on privately owned property, as part of the organization’s OM Build initiative.
The vision of OM Build is to help foster “a place where people with or without current safe housing can live and/or work cooperatively in a way that promotes dignity, safety, stewardship, and sustainability for all.” According to Al Jazeera , the next phase of the project will see six homes, another bathroom, and a community room complete with a kitchen and laundry facility built in the spring.
The project relies heavily on private donations from volunteers, and is completely autonomous.
Organizers of OM Build think that the effort may serve as a model for other cities.
Occupy Madison first started working with the homeless in 2011, when they formed in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Luca Clemente of Occupy Madison stated , “We had our general assembly meetings and over time more and more of the people there on site were not political activists, but homeless people.” When the Occupy camp closed in the spring of 2012, the homeless members suddenly had no place to go.
Clemente stated , “We had all these people – about 80 to 100 – that were stuck with no place to go.
In Madison there’s no legal place to sleep outdoors, and you get 60 to 90 days in the shelter – after that you’re on your own.
We tried to stay together; we said if we had our own land perhaps we would be able to make a solution out of it.” She continued , “We had heard about these tiny houses in the media, but mostly in the context of middle-class Americans downsizing their lifestyle…
We saw that it would be possible to do the same thing for the homeless.
Occupy Madison evolved into a group based on human solidarity – we don’t care if you’re democrat or republican.
The point is do you want to come together to cooperate, to pool your resources, creativity and physical labor to make each other’s lives better.”