Thursday, January 25, 2007

Affordable Housing, Micro Homes, and A Look Into The Future by Walt Barrett

This Morning I watched a piece on the NBC Today Show about the homeless in Los Angles. NBC did their usual excellent job of pointing out the problems as they have done in many other pieces over the years. News people are long on pointing out problems in our society, but short on offering solutions. I guess they think that it is up to the rest of us to figure out the solutions to the problems that they present us with on a daily basis.
Well I have been thinking about affordable housing for many years, and the same problems keep coming back to haunt me. Where do we put them? We can mass-produce Micro Homes on an assembly line for low costs compared to the larger homes that many people feel they “have to have.” Finding reasonable land, and a local government that is willing to allow Micro Homes is another story.
Micro Homes are inexpensive to build, require very little fuel to heat, and much less electricity. They can run on solar electricity, solar hot water, and at least partial active, and passive solar heating without a huge initial investment. We also hope to develop a more efficient and odorless composting type toilet for these homes. In a rural setting gray wash water can be sprayed onto the gardens.
In my own mind’s eye, I see the population shifting to the warmer climates of the South, and Southwest because of the rising fuel costs. The colder states will be facing constant economic nightmares that they will try to tax their way out of, and simply make matters worse. The warmer states will enjoy the strongest economies.
Any large scale Micro Home program is going to require a great deal of thought, and planning. We cannot allow these Micro Villages to turn into unsanitary shack towns riddled with crime like what has happened in many other major affordable housing projects. I hate to sound cynical but the older I get, the more I realize the level of uncivilized behavior that human beings are capable of. The sad part is that I don’t see the government taking any real serious action to solve our major social economic problems. I would offer New Orleans, and the rest of the hurricane stricken Gulf Coast as a major example. With all the major obstacles in our way this could mean that Micro Homes may be relegated to being summer camps in semi wilderness woods and desert areas where they will remain hidden from the mainstream world.
I am putting out these thoughts this morning as a challenge to make people think about the possibilities and problems associated with Micro Homes, and I hope that you will offer some ideas, and, or, solutions. I have also offered you a look into the future. We should get ready now regardless of the ever rising and falling fuel costs. Don’t be fooled by the marketing tactics of big oil!


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