The Times Online – Tiny House Village Edinburgh
People living rough on the streets will soon be offered permanent accommodation in a new “village” for the homeless (Mike Wade writes).
Under plans announced by an ethical business — endorsed by the actor Leonardo DiCaprio during a recent trip to Scotland — 20 individuals will next summer be able to take up places in “Tiny Houses” in Granton, north Edinburgh.
The Social Bite village will provide a “managed environment” designed to help those who have been sleeping rough adapt to a new, secure lifestyle.
Social Bite’s existing sandwich shops help to provide food for the homeless in four Scottish cities, and a quarter of its 100 staff were formerly on the streets. Profits are ploughed into charitable causes.
Josh Littlejohn, Social Bite’s co-founder, said the housing initiative was the natural extension of its work. “Our main raison d’être is to make a dent in the homelessness figure,” Mr Littlejohn said. “We’ve engaged in the employment, the support work, in giving free food; at some point we were always going to come full circle and consider the roof over someone’s head.”
The venture is designed to help village residents move into permanent accommodation after 12 months. With their new-found security will come improved prospects for employment, according to the project’s backers, and a chance to break a cycle of poverty.
About 400 people report themselves homeless in Edinburgh every night, obliging the city council to provide temporary shelter, usually in bed and breakfast accommodation or in a hostel. Each bed costs £47 a night, amounting to a bill over the year of £6.97 million in Edinburgh alone.
“It is a broken system,” Mr Littlejohn said. “Typically the accommodation is run-down but privately owned for profit. People have to be out on the street by 10am every morning. Realistically they have very little chance of a job.”
While its food business is restricted to Scotland, Social Bite’s fame has spread and it was endorsed in Edinburgh last week by DiCaprio and last year by George Clooney.
The new village will be on land owned by EDI Group, a development company owned by Edinburgh council. Each house will be built at a cost of £30,000, providing a shared WC and shower, a lounge area and a small kitchen.
The buildings are designed by Tiny House Scotland, a Linlithgow business that claims to fuse “building science with aesthetic design and individual craftsmanship to create a new alternative for small-scale sustainable living”. Bruce Mickel, of the housebuilders Mactaggart and Mickel, will offer technical support.
The units are transportable and, should EDI Group develop the land, Social Bite would be able to relocate the houses to another suitable location in the future for reuse.