It’s been too many times where rich affluent liberal minded individuals propose to solve the homeless problem with buying over lots of land, and putting in them “tiny houses.” They argue it’s a frugal solution to the homeless problem. The homeless are only seen as a blight to be unseen, as a population that if they have a roof, the problem will be over. Whereas homeless is a problem that ought to be solved, and tiny houses are absolutely better than nothing, there’s still something that’s skipped over the naive idealism of “frugalism.”
The problem of homelessness is much more pervasive than we are led on to believe. Too many times are we convinced that the solution is “more housing”, “more development”, more of everything. Like I’ve mentioned about Ed Lee’s and NIMBY’s obsession with development goes in line instead of neoliberal economics, and this only exasperates the problem rather than solves it. Market rate housing is too pricey for a population in the Bay Area that have literally been priced out. As fires rage through the Mission neighborhood, and more recently in the Grenfell Tower in the UK, housing as a commodity is being questioned by people all over the world.
What the Tiny House movement does is instead hone in on some capitalistic reformist mindsets. The idea of frugality is emphasized within it. A sort of mini-neoliberal program of austerity is reinforced – an idea that if the homeless live within their means, everything will be ok (these are the same ‘means’ that they most likely don’t posses to begin with).
Yet, the problem of the effects of the legal fiction that is capitalism is precisely that. Property that cannot be used because we have returned to a new godforsaken gilded age. In capitalism, property belongs only to those that posses the means to acquire it. Never mind of creating a society based on usage; whoever owns the legal title owns property. Like in state socialist societies that were horrendous for people, capitalist societies hardly have people that own their property outright. They are still owned by the state (in the state of the US, by banks). Tiny houses, despite being subject of a liberal solution that goes in line with market solution, won’t solve the problem. Expropriation of unused properties that outnumber the homeless by a margin 6:1 will perhaps be a more realistic and humane solution that the continuation of theft and legal fiction.