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Tempe Considers Tiny-Home Community

Jared Stoltzfus and his daughter, Dahlia Stoltzfus in the kitchen of his 160SF tiny house in Scottsdale. Credit: Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic

By Sonja Hunter for The Arizona Republic

Tempe may create one of Arizona’s first tiny-home communities, with as many as 11 houses on just two-thirds of an acre of city-owned land.

City leaders hope to provide housing for low-to-middle-income families and be innovators in a trendy movement, but even builders of the small abodes debate whether that movement will catch on in a big way in the state.

Despite a plethora of TV shows like “Tiny House Nation” on the FYI channel and “Tiny House Hunters” on HGTV, little homes haven’t become big business. One significant obstacle: City building codes and zoning laws in Valley cities prevent them from being built.

Tempe’s project

Tempe’s interest in a tiny-home community grew out of council members’ concern about mobile-home community evictions along Apache Boulevard to make room for new development.

City officials have worked with Arizona State University students on a feasibility study for “Humble Homes,” a grouping of nine to 11 houses in central Tempe. The Tempe City Council has considered two different community layouts on two-thirds of an acre that the city owns on Rita Lane, east of Rural Road.

The designs for Humble Homes would be 300 to 600 square feet on a foundation with a community garden and center, up to 10 parking spaces and a bike locker. Whether the houses would be sold or rented to low- and middle-income families is not yet decided. No timeline for the project is set.

And Tempe also faces internal hurdles: The city’s building code doesn’t allow tiny homes to be built. However, Tempe officials could update that, or use a different approval mechanism that allows such alternative designs.

An ASU team of students from the EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service) program presented a first look at potential layout designs of the homes and preliminary cost estimates this summer to the council. Early cost estimates for the homes are between $30,000 and $50,000 each. The community center could cost $245,000, with additional expenses of up to $3,200 for testing and implementing the community garden and $400,000 for solar panels.

Read more at The Arizona Republic

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