Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Tiny House Village Provides Big Life

If you build it, they will come..eventually. Such is the case with the perpetually displaced tiny house building typology. The popular demi-homes have a habit of falling on the wrong side of the law and habitability. They often find themselves getting moved around town because they can’t be stationed anywhere for too long, or remaining unoccupied because they fail to be considered legal housing. A new tiny house development in Olympia, Washington may have hit the nail on the head for how to use tiny houses in an ongoing, legal and logical fashion.

Quixote Village, as the development is called, is a permanent tiny house village that evolved from Camp Quixote, a floating homeless camp founded in 2007–a camp  that moved over 20 times since its founding, hopping from various faith community lands until they exceeded city ordinance time limits for campouts.

The village is made up of 30 residents from the camp, who occupy 30, 144 sq ft tiny houses, spread over 2.1 acres. The village includes a community center with laundry, communal kitchen, living and dining spaces as well as a community garden.

Each house cost $19,000, which includes materials and labor at commercial rates. The total project cost $3.05M. The project was funded and guided by a nonprofit called Panza, which is made up of the various Olympia faith organizations that supported Camp Quixote throughout its history.

Quixote Village got so much support largely because of its longevity and cohesiveness. It is self-governing and abides by two code of conduct–one established by Panza and another by itself.


The village planning was a collaboration between a committee and architect Garner Miller. Residents had input as well as a NY Times article reports:

The residents lobbied for a horseshoe layout rather than clusters of cottages, in order to minimize cliques. And they traded interior area for sitting porches. The social space lies outside the cottage. Or as Mr. Johnson put it, ‘If I don’t want to see anybody, I don’t have to.”

This community oriented planning reminds us of Pocket Neighborhoods, which feature homes with large porches that face a community-shared commons.

Half of the residents report zero income, and the average annual income of the villagers that do report one is $3100, most of which comes from day labor, pensions and social security. Villager are expected to give 30% of whatever income they do produce. We assume the shortfall is made up by Panza.

It might be a stretch to say we envy the Quixote Villager’s situation, but we think their setup–with its minimal, community designed housing–makes far more sense than most residential housing. And it may go to show that modest means often produce solutions that make far more sense than ones that well from unlimited means.

Via NY Times 

  • Christopher Tilley

    Overall, I think that this is a great approach to providing quality homes and a community for some homeless people.

  • Christina

    It seems utterly uneconomical and unecological and actually antisocial to build like this! How about really well planned multi-family homes?!

    • Lu Miller-Knight

      But these homes aren’t for families!
      Can you explain how they are uneconomical and antisocial?

      • Jill Joiner

        As someone who worked with several homeless shelters and DV shelters families are the largest growing segment of homelessness. Do they deserve to live in sub standard housing because it is for families? Also it is an us them mentality that could cause this to be perceived as anti-social.

    • Silverrain

      Many people who are homeless and who have been long term are not used to the apartment style living that you get with multi-family homes. By creating something like this you can help them transition into what is considered a more acceptable lifestyle in our country without over-stressing them and aggravating possible mental health or other health issues. The layout actually leads to a more community based feel which will promote social activities and behaviors while still allowing people private space they can withdraw into as needed. I have lived in multi-family homes and in traditional homes as well all sorts of other options. I don’t think I ever knew a single neighbor in my apartment building. When I lived in a ” pocket neighborhood” type of area, I knew all my neighbors. We would have spontaneous frisbee games in our communal backyard on a regular basis.
      This is still very sound financially as the cost that went into these homes is significantly less than what it costs to build most large buildings, you can replace repair or remove any one of these units without disturbing or otherwise affecting the other units.
      As these are much smaller than traditional structure built homes or even most mobile homes you fit many more onto one piece of land while leaving most of the natural trees and plants in place instead of needing to destroy a huge swath of trees to place one large building.

  • clarkbennett

    I really like this concept. I do think that overall building cost per unit could be reduced by including duplexes or a few two person units. That is assuming there is a bathroom and kitchen(ette) in each unit.

  • Rebecca Cody

    Where are they? I live in Olympia and I’d love to drive by and take a look. Not a big, gawking look, just a subtle glimpse.

  • Pattie

    Everyone is popularizing the term mental health as equated with homeless. No one ever talks about gentrification, people loosing their homes through the robbing Probated Properties by some courts. Everything is so distorted. People growing up in the United States, and being Citizens of the United States are some how aliens suffering with Mental Health Problems that does not support their rights to decent housing. You go to developing countries and people don’t even know how to use a toilet. However, when they come to the United States no one is talking to them about Supportive Housing? I believe that this belief that all people who are homeless suffer from mental illness is gentrification propaganda. Anyone can know be homeless, with any income, and any amount of wealth. To Find out more go to, the last paragraph. We all pay taxes, mostly everyone went to school, lived in a home an apartment. Not everything is black or white, their is some gray in between.

    • Pattie

      The Tiny Village is a great idea. No one else has done very much to stop the huge Homelessness and Joblessness problem. Homelessness is growing. This will be a major voting issue that major candidates and state representatives will have to address. Their are more homeless people than in the Great Depression and the numbers are growing. This should be cause for a state of emergency.