Homeless Housing Solutions: Wooden Pallet Homes
In recent years, as many as 3.5 million people have been homeless each year in the United States. On any given week, there are over 800,000 homeless in America.
The largest percentage of these is made up of families with children, which account for 23% of the homeless.
On any given week, as many as 43% of the homeless are Veterans.
Homelessness is a national shame, a cancer that few want to talk about and yet is seen by most citizens on a daily basis.
Fact: last year there were 150 million discarded pallets in landfills across the United States.
What Is Being Done About It
Well, very little as a matter of fact, and if the economic predictions are correct, homelessness will increase rather than decrease in the coming years.
Yes, there are homeless shelters, but they are not nearly enough. Nightly across this country, homeless citizens are turned away from shelters already overflowing past their planned capacities. Budget cuts invariably target Social Services when money is tight, so to think that suddenly that trend will be reversed is a fool’s dream.
So what can be done?
I suspect, and I have no data to back this up, that most cities are at a loss for a solution to the homeless problem. The city where this writer lives, Olympia, Washington, is the capitol of the state. Government buildings are everywhere that you look, and so, sadly, are the homeless. In a city where government is the number one employer, the sight of the unemployed and homeless is the sight one remembers when walking the streets.
So what can be done?
More Pallet Ideas
- Frugal Tips For Used Pallet Construction Projects
Is the cost of lumber too expensive for you to do home projects? Well never fear, the trusty pallet is here!
Building Homes With Pallets
Pallets to the Rescue
Watch the video to the right of this page. It chronicles one group’s idea of building alternative housing using discarded pallets. It is ingenuous and it is doable. A two or three person team can build a 300 square foot home in four or five days, and the cost is ridiculously small because the pallets can be found just about anywhere. Remember the figure from earlier in this article: 150 million discarded pallets in landfills across this country.
Using 150 pallets to make a home means that in this country, right now, are the resources needed to build one million homes for the homeless.
So How Would It Work?
I don’t have a clue, but all solutions begin with ideas, and this is an idea that has not been tried in the United States, so why not? I can envision cities setting aside property for a pallet housing project. Let volunteers and the homeless build the homes; bring in port-o-potties, and pipe in water for a community kitchen like you see in many parks. Sure there would be an expense to the city, but it would be made up for by having less social services needed in the cities.
Give people a reason to live; give them something to be proud of; give them a chance to rise out of the gutter and get their lives back in order. No, it does not put them back to work, but it takes the first big step of giving them some dignity. From there, who knows what could happen.
A Better Look at the Homelessness Problem
- Social Problems: Homelessness in the United States
A look at a growing problem in the United States and elsewhere. The homeless are a part of the fabric of this nation and yet what to do about it?
There Will Always Be Naysayers
Of course there are; you can find them every single time a new idea is proposed. They are not solution-oriented but rather they are pontificators of the negative.
Don’t tell me something can’t possibly work; give me ideas on how we can make it work.
What I know for a fact is that what we are doing as a society is not working, so here is an idea that can work. Right now our proposed solution is to do nothing. City governments adopt a blind philosophy to the homeless; as long as they aren’t panhandling too much or committing crimes, then they are just ignored as part of the landscape. There is no solution in that attitude; we step over and around the problem rather than doing something to eliminate the problem.
I will always remember arriving in Beaverton, Oregon for a teaching assignment. I arrived on a Friday in August, got settled into my new apartment, and then drove around town to get acclimated. When the drive was over I was left with a feeling that something was missing. It took me several days to realize what that something was: there were no homeless on the streets of Beaverton. I found that so amazing because I had come from Olympia, Washington, where the homeless are a part of the everyday landscape.
Of course I had to find out why there were no homeless. I mean surely there were poor people in Beaverton. Where were they?
It took me several weeks to find the answer. One of my student’s parents was a police officer, so I asked him about the lack of homeless, and he told me that there was a city ordinance that forbid them being in Beaverton. The city had, in effect, zoned out the homeless and sent them on their way to another city, and sure enough, during another of my drives, you could find homeless right outside the city limits of Beaverton.
In other words, the city officials of Beaverton dealt with homelessness by forbidding it and shuffling it off to another city. My friends, that is not a solution; that is a knee-jerk reaction that solves nothing other than to make the business owners of Beaverton happy.
Let’s Be Realistic
Homelessness is not going to disappear! It will only increase until something is done with the economy that makes it possible for more people to find employment.
We cannot adopt a policy of turning a blind eye; that kind of myopic thinking is beneath us as a civilization. The homeless are made up of people just like you and me. Of course there are alcoholics and drug addicts among the homeless, but I can say with all certainty that there are also alcoholics and drug addicts in the “normal” population as well.
Also among that homeless population are former teachers, former soldiers and former housewives. There are people from every walk of life out on the streets, and it is a pox on the collective soul of this country.
Pallet housing is a solution. Someone recently suggested building homes using cob construction, as it is sturdier and very inexpensive. I’m all for it. I’m all for any forward thinking that is aimed at ending this blight on society.
I am of the opinion that it is time to stop putting bandages on cancerous tumors, and work on curing the cancer. It is the only thing that makes sense from an economic standpoint, and it is the only thing that makes sense from a humanitarian standpoint.
Humanity One World; we are all in this together.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)