The latest solution to homelessness: Tiny houses

Creator says reaction from the homeless has been positive, though some would like them bigger

An Oakland artist has come up with an innovative new method for keeping the homeless off the streets - building them miniature house out of materials he finds lying around.

Reminiscent of that scene from Zoolander, the homes are designed as an alternative to shelters, which often fill up or impose strict restrictions.

Made from pallets, bed boards and in some cases washing machine doors, creator Greg Kloehn makes them for around $30 each and jokingly says he builds "illegal homes out of illegal garbage."

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All pictures: Brian Reynolds)

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Kloehn says the houses, which are just big enough to lie down in and warmer than cardboard boxes, have proved popular with Oakland's homeless and in some cases have saved them from getting tickets from the police for sleeping rough.

"They are so happy!" he said of the reaction. "One cried and got on his knees to thank me. They think I should make them bigger and suggest improvements. They like to decorate them themselves.

"Right now 25 or so [people are using the houses]. One couple had their home burned, another stolen and one even sold his. It is tough out there. So I keep making more."

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Kloehn usually comes up with names for them, with past creations including R2D2, The Settler, Romanian Farm House, Uni-bomber Shack, the Tank and The Chuck Wagon.

Of their appeal, he added: "Tiny houses are striking a number of chords in our society. They are not just homes but fast becoming a life style option. They are, usually, (but not always) cheaper then regular homes, giving more people the opportunity of ownership.

"By skipping the traditional 30 years mortgage, perhaps the tiny home movement could even reshape the way we think about work and what we want to accomplish with our lives."

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