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Pittsburgh looks to other cities using tiny house villages to address homelessness

Pittsburgh looks to other cities using tiny house villages to address homelessness
Pittsburgh looks to other cities using tiny house villages to address homelessness 02:06

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Pittsburgh continues to work on its idea of managed communities with tiny houses to address homelessness.

They have been working on the idea for months to find a way to get people off the streets. The idea is not unique to the Pittsburgh area. Other cities are looking for solutions to the problem.

Credit: Provided

According to city council, there are about 100 other cities across the country that are using the idea to tackle the issue of people without homes. KDKA-TV spoke with a few of them to see how it's working in their neck of the woods. 

The idea is to have a small house provide shelter for people on the streets. It would be in a little village where city council plans to have services to get people into permanent housing, facilities to address health and hygiene and other wraparound services to help problems like mental health and addiction.

"We felt like we had a moral obligation to house everyone in Denver," said Cole Chandler, the senior advisor to Denver Mayor Mike Johnston.

Denver started using what they call micro-communities last July. Pittsburgh City Council members spoke with Denver about their initiative while coming up with their plan. Chandler says their seven sites have been able to get more than 1,200 people off the streets.

"We're identifying a particular encampment and saying, 'hey, this encampment is going to be closed,' but we are closing it through housing resources instead of just moving the encampment down the block," Chandler said. 

Other areas like Los Angeles have groups like Hope the Mission tackling the project. They started in 2021 and have seven communities around Los Angeles County.

While the communities are not a solution for everyone, they especially help people who may be victims of abuse. To address concerns about locations, the organization holds open houses so people can see the villages.

"Nobody wants a shelter in their neighborhood, but if we are going to address the homeless crisis, we are going to need one," said Hope the Mission president Rowan Vansleve.

The goal for Denver and Hope the Mission is to have people stay at these sites for anywhere from six months to a year and get into permanent housing.

Their advice to Pittsburgh is to make sure there are private and public partnerships on this project.

"If you can get those two dynamics right, you can do incredible things and change the world," Vansleve said.

Currently, the city council is working with the planning commission on this to see how they can get this zoned and how it can be implemented. 

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