While tiny houses have been attractive for those wanting to downsize or simplify their lives for financial or environmental reasons, there's another population benefiting from the small-dwelling movement: the homeless.
There's a growing effort across the nation from advocates and religious groups to build these compact buildings because they are cheaper than a traditional large-scale shelter, help the recipients socially because they are built in communal settings and are environmentally friendly due to their size.
"You're out of the elements, you've got your own bed, you've got your own place to call your own," said Harold "Hap" Morgan, who is without a permanent home in Madison. "It gives you a little bit of self-pride: This is my own house."
He's in line for a 99-square-foot house built through the nonprofit Occupy Madison Build, or OM Build, run by former organizers with the Occupy movement. The group hopes to create a cluster of tiny houses like those in Olympia, Wash., and Eugene and Portland, Ore.
Many have been built with donated materials and volunteer labor, sometimes from the people who will live in them.
Opportunity Village Eugene opened in September with little resistance, said Heben, 26, who is on the board of directors. Most of the nine huts, which are 60 square feet, and 21 bungalows, which are 64 square feet and 80 square feet, are already built.
Thirty people are living in them now, and he expects 40 to 45 residents ultimately. The houses don't have electricity, water, bathrooms, showers or kitchens, but separate shared buildings do.
They've done it all for less than $100,000, which is about half the median home price in Eugene, all from private donors with no taxpayer money.
Ministries in Texas and New York also are developing communities with clusters of small houses.
Mobile Loaves and Fishes plans 135 small homes and 100 recreational vehicles on 27 acres near Austin, Texas.
The Christian ministry that started 15 years ago bringing food and clothing to the homeless hopes to raise $7 million to build the homes, streets, utilities, sewers, a farming operation, medical facility and sanctuary, President and CEO Alan Graham said.
Community Faith Partnership near Ithaca, N.Y., has built six of up to 18 planned 320-square-foot houses as transitional living for homeless men, said Jim Crawford, the group's executive director.