December 27, 2013

A shantytown in Madison, Wisconsin.

"The first 'tiny home' constructed for Madison's homeless was officially occupied earlier this week — the first of what OMBuild, a nonprofit organization that grew out of Occupy Madison — hopes will eventually be a 'village; of little houses for the formerly homeless."
City ordinances require the house — parked on the street — to be moved every 48 hours.

OMBuild is waiting for a qualified nonprofit group, like a church, to step forward and obtain a newly created zoning permit that will allow a little house to be placed permanently on private property. Long-term, OMBuild would like to own property on which a “village” of little houses could be developed....
This is supposedly modeled on something that's going on in Washington and Oregon, including "Right to Dream Too" "a 'rest area' located on private property in downtown Portland, fenced with a ring of recycled doors morphed into a mural art project."

"Just morph out from there," I say and Meade says, "I knew you would say that." We get each other's allusions, which in this case was "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."

What's morphing in your world today? "Morph,"  the verb, goes back to 1982, according to the (unlinkable) OED, as a reference to the computer animation process, and the extended use, referring to change "as if by morphing" only appeared in the early 90s. I first heard the word "morph" when that then-amazing video "Cry" came out in 1985.

Back to the topic of fencing in a possibly unsightly shantytown, the top-linked article quotes a [former] Madison city council member, Brenda Konkel, who toured places like Right to Dream Too. She said: “Fences are important — it gives the community a sense of security and personal responsibility — and that gives people the right to govern what goes on there.”

Is the fence to cater to the feelings of those who are fenced in or those who want them fenced in? You know there's a question you're supposed to ask:
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.'....

53 comments:

MadisonMan said...

I saw that in the paper the other day. I suppose, because the microhomes (I think they're a step up from shantys) are built by the people who live in them, that that's a good thing.

Perhaps Brenda Konkel can have one in her driveway, as she seems very enamored of them.

Ann Althouse said...

Why not have little old RVs parked on the street in your neighborhood, moved from spot to spot as required by the parking regulations?

After writing that question, I glanced down at my property tax bill, which is more than $15,000.

Gahrie said...

Can we call them Obamavilles...are is that racist?

traditionalguy said...

Just keep them on the wrong side of the tracks.

Most towns in the country that did no have a river running through it used the RR running through it as a boundary to keep shanty neighborhoods in their place.

Just start at the Depot and morph out from there.

In Ft Worth the RR was its raision d'ĂȘtre to send the cattle north to Chicago. The engine whistles and RR sounds go on all night...the RR whistles blown are the chosen celebration of the Horned Frogs TCU's touchdowns.

EDH said...

Of course, the best place to locate one of these is in an urban center where real estate prices are highest for miles around.

The point isn't to help the poor, but to hector those who aren't.

gerry said...

Does Brenda Konkel live in a highrise with a doorman, perhaps, or a lockout? That's a gated community, too. Is she that snooty?

Dan from Madison said...

"Why not have little old RVs parked on the street in your neighborhood, moved from spot to spot as required by the parking regulations?"

I work in the industrial park by Occupy Madison Build, where they are building the tiny homes. We already have little old RV's that they move every 48 hours all around this industrial park. It is perfectly legal. Of course we have had several instances of trespassing on private property, documented by our video cameras, with information sent to the OM Build people as well as the police.

Eventually, the trailers, rvs and tiny homes, which are built very close to the ground, will get stuck in ice and snow and will be immovable, choking off semi trailer and other traffic here in the industrial park.

Also, someone will get hurt eventually. It is simply a matter of time before thieves, or traffic create a casualty of the residents of the tiny homes and/or campers.

Lyssa said...

It's a mistake to assume that the problems of the homeless are based around the fact that they don't have homes.

Dan from Madison said...

Lyssa nails it.

gerry said...

Oh, please please please please let this happen in Madison!

jacksonjay said...


15K plus an INCOME TAX???????

I'll just stay in Texas!

Michael K said...

These people are oblivious to the common denominator of homelessness. The homeless are either psychotic or addicts. Neither is a good candidate to own a home. I know many examples, some in my own medical practice, of homeless people who owned homes they would not sleep in, preferring an alley. One woman with breast cancer that I operated on (ER admission) who had family in Laguna Beach while she lived on the beach a few miles south. I tried to get them together after her operation. She would have none of it.

She returned to her beach a couple of miles from her family's million dollar Laguna Beach home.

EMD said...

After writing that question, I glanced down at my property tax bill, which is more than $15,000.

Jesus, lady ... you're getting taken to the cleaners.

MadisonMan said...

My property tax is "only" just south of $9K.

This includes money to the state (same as last year, I think), county, local technical college, Madison schools and city. My vague recollection is that the city takes the biggest bite. Dane Co and Madison view houses as bottomless piggy banks.

Jane said...

Isn't it politically-incorrect to advocate for "single-family homes" in this day and age? Shouldn't we all be living in apartments?

in any case, there was an article recently about RVs in New York City, and people upset about them parking in front of their expensive real estate. . .

EMD said...

I 'invented' a basic lean-to that could be set against buildings in alleyways that could give the homeless at the very minimum shelter from the elements. It was basically a walled hallway with doors at either end with an angled half-roof. They would be made out of heavy-duty plastic so they could basically be housed out (urine/vomit and wood or metal don't mix as well)

Bob Boyd said...

"As you know, white trash in America, they don't just lay around and litter things. They're all kept in a little receptacle, little metal boxes. This is a song about growing up in one of them boxes." Otis Lee Crenshaw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Al-2Sjtx8o

MadisonMan said...

For that money, we get weekly garbage pick-up (We'd do just fine with bi-weekly, although I suppose people with kids in diapers in summer might not), leaf pick-up, brush pick-up, fire and police protection, street cleaning/plowing/salting, a variety of parks and libraries, a zoo, a spiffy Performing Arts Center (that I've been to three times in a decade), a city bike/pedestrian bureaucrat (and many other bureaucrats).

Michael K said...

"in any case, there was an article recently about RVs in New York City, and people upset about them parking in front of their expensive real estate. . ."

There is a hilarious uproar in the People's Republic of Santa Monica about the same thing. I was going to link to an LA Times article about it but they won't let me.

Clyde said...

Damn, Gahrie beat me to it!

I vote to name them "Obamavilles," too!

garage mahal said...

in any case, there was an article recently about RVs in New York City, and people upset about them parking in front of their expensive real estate.

Awwww.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks for linking to that NY Post article. I was thinking about that when writing my comment about RVs.

Richard Head said...

15K plus an INCOME TAX???????

I'll just stay in Texas!


Yeah, well.... FIRST Imagine having the salary to be able to afford that!

And say - aren't UW salaries from Taxes?



Biff said...

Lyssa said..."It's a mistake to assume that the problems of the homeless are based around the fact that they don't have homes."

The article Ann highlighted concludes with, "Governance of the community was a common challenge, Konkel notes in her blogs. Issues include alcohol and drug use, theft, smoking — and, Konkel noted — an issue that has come up at Occupy Madison and many a home, tiny or not: Who should do the dishes."

cubanbob said...

It should be mandatory that these things should only be parked in front of the homes of elected officials, senior civil servants and the homes of judges.

$15,000? I should be so lucky! But then again I live in fabulous Miami, not Madison. Still it beats having a state income tax.

MadisonMan said...

And say - aren't UW salaries from Taxes?

Some of the salaries are what they call 101 funds -- from the state appropriation. But many are not. The Law School, I believe, does not draw salary (for Professors) from the state.

realmadisonresident said...

Its been almost 5 years since Brenda Konkel served on the city council and she doesn't live in a high-rise building with a doorman; rather she regularly allows homeless people to stay in her modest east side home and is actively involved in actually helping folks in Madison. Also, a lot of folks in the area already regularly park their RVs on city streets, moving them every 48 hours.

But don't let any thing silly like "actual facts" get in the way of the latest Hour of Hate...after all, its been shown you can get a lot more folks through the AmazoPortal with vinegar than with honey.

...and how sheltered of a life (pun intended)does one have to live in order to view these micro-homes as a "shanty"?

garage mahal said...

Never understood why some feel the need to pile on a group of people in our society that have absolutely nothing. Around Madison, that sort of snottery typically comes from the west-side of town. "I wish they would just disappear already!"

Humperdink said...

Ann Althouse property taxes- $15,000.
Services- too many to count.

Humperdink property taxes- $1,800.
(house, cottage, barn, 40 acres)
Services - dirt road is snow plowed by the township, public schools.

I'm happy, she's happy. Too each their own.

ken in sc said...

Using US flags as curtains is a violation of the Flag Code, but that code is pretty much violated all the time anyway. It has no enforcement provisions.

Craig Landon said...

From a lawyer's comment at DKos:

Homeless will be permitted to stay in the homes so long as they:

- Work 32 hours for Occupy Madison.
- Refrain from drinking anywhere but in the house.
- Attend all Occupy Madison meetings

They can be kicked out by a majority vote of the board of directors of Occupy Madison.

Link to OM site

Marc said...

Here in the People's Republic of Eugene, the St Vincent de Paul Society runs a program that provides homeless folks' parking lots for their cars/RVs-- legal camping, trash pickup, portable toilets-- at several different sites. SVP does some sort of screening of the campers, too. Awful confusion of church and state!

virgil xenophon said...

Venice Beach has a huge problem of people permanently parked in RVs along the streets near the beach. Most are too poor to afford to drive them any distance--especially to the designated areas for disposal of "night soil." So instead they drive the streets late at night illegally discharging down the middle of the street. A few years ago one was caught @ 3am by a local resident who made a citizens arrest which created an out-roar which was highly publicized by local talk-radio that got the city council involved and forced police to enforce ordinances, yet not much has really changed (My wife, upon reading/hearing the news said "I WONDERED what was the source of that smell every time I drove down the streets! LOL)

MadisonMan said...

a group of people in our society that have absolutely nothing.

If you want to see people who have absolutely nothing, I suggest looking in the slums of Africa or India. The homeless of Madison are quite well off in comparison.

Ann Althouse said...

I read some of those documents. Seems like a work camp, like something you'd be sentenced to, except that you can leave.

Ann Althouse said...

"Also, a lot of folks in the area already regularly park their RVs on city streets, moving them every 48 hours."

In what area? Madison? I am not seeing that, and I think those of us who own houses and use the limited street parking would strongly object if people in RVs were simply using the street parking as a place to live. How is that fair?

MadisonMan said...

In what area? Madison?

I recall reading about this issue -- I think it was on/near S. Syene Road, south of the Beltline, east of Fish Hatch. So, not a residential area. As you note, the neighbors would complain.

Ann Althouse said...

In residential neighborhoods around Madison, you need a resident parking sticker to park longer than -- in my neighborhood anyway -- 2 hours (though between 6 at night and 8 in the morning it's not restricted).

It seems to me though that living in your vehicle isn't the same as parking.

If there's some special area set aside to park these vehicles, then what you have is a trailer park. I would think cities -- especially super-picky cities like Madison -- would be pretty strict about where you could have a trailer park.

And are these "tiny houses" equipped with bathrooms and running water? I'm interested in the tiny house movement, and that term has been appropriated here for something else, I believe. In the tiny house movement, the house is very small but it's equipped with the conventional fittings of bathrooms and kitchens.

garage mahal said...

If you want to see people who have absolutely nothing, I suggest looking in the slums of Africa or India. The homeless of Madison are quite well off in comparison.

Classic.

MadisonMan said...

Classic, and true.

Sorry to burst your bubble of hyperbole.

Biff said...

Ann Althouse said..."I read some of those documents. Seems like a work camp, like something you'd be sentenced to, except that you can leave."

I had the same thought. Especially in the context of the Kos comment quoted earlier (work for us for 32 hrs, attend our mtgs, and stay in our bldgs), I wonder how the organizers of such "camps" would feel about corporations setting up dorms as employee compensation instead of wages. I can't imagine that the "ban unpaid internships" crowd would be happy with that.

Andy Freeman said...

> For that money, we get weekly garbage pick-up (We'd do just fine with bi-weekly, although I suppose people with kids in diapers in summer might not), leaf pick-up, brush pick-up, fire and police protection, street cleaning/plowing/salting, a variety of parks and libraries, a zoo, a spiffy Performing Arts Center (that I've been to three times in a decade), a city bike/pedestrian bureaucrat (and many other bureaucrats).

Property taxes are federal tax deductions, so the rest of us paying are paying for some of that.

I've no objection to you paying taxes for what you want, but include me out.

State/local taxes should NOT be deductible. (And yes, I'd lose a huge deduction for my state/local taxes.)

eelpout said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

State/local taxes should NOT be deductible.

I think the mortgage interest write-off should be removed as well.

My life would be much easier with a flat tax.

Curious George said...

"MadisonMan said...
Dane Co and Madison view houses as bottomless piggy banks."

That's because the voting residents of Dane County allow it to happen.

Paco Wové said...

"Seems like a work camp"

Cool! They've reinvented the workhouse! Scrooge would be so proud!

garage mahal said...

Even Curious George can sympathize with the poor, downtrodden UW-Madison Faculty Elite-- paid by the public-- and their endless struggles with The Man.

"You mean I have to look at them sometimes too?"

wildswan said...

I lived in communal houses in the sixties and seventies and I still would like to hear that someone has solved the housing problem in a totally just, affordable and humane way. But it's always the same - the new way with the old great-hearted aspirations just doesn't work. It always turns out that a lot of work is needed and only a little work is forthcoming without ownership and personal control.

Dan from Madison said...

I would like to answer some of the questions in this thread as I work near the OM Build shop and there are issues.

The people in this industrial park all had a meeting with them a few months ago to address concerns.

The OM people already have a camper that they move every 48 hours. This is perfectly legal. They have kept the construction of the tiny homes below the weight limit where they are considered to need licensing. This is a state of Wisconsin DOT thing. The tiny home is technically a trailer, not subject to licensing.

Ann mentioned that in her neighborhood you need a sticker to park for more than a certain time period. I don't know if that is a city ordinance that is enforceable over the state law that says they need to move the trailer every 48 hours.

In my opinion, the tiny homes are constructed in a way that will require regular maintenance for many things. How the people living in them plan on getting that done is an interesting question.

The OM Build people have a pickup truck that they will be using to move the tiny homes. They have been using this pickup to move a camper trailer that houses residents in this industrial park for many months now.

The residents of the camper currently use the OM Build facility to use the restroom. Their dog seems to poop wherever they let it, unfortunately.

The first tiny home is as of now parked in the parking lot out front of the OM Build facility. This is wise as in my opinion, the trailer/home is constructed in a fashion that will render it impossible to move in any sort of snow or ice event.

The alders at the meeting several months ago were excited to get a private organization like a church set up to host the tiny homes. We are also excited as if they plan on using this industrial park as their home, there will be problems with the 53 foot semi trailers that come in and out of here on a daily basis. Also, there are thieves and crime - it is simply a matter of time before a tiny home resident is rolled, broken into, or both. Or, they will just get hit by a truck. The residents of the camper I have noticed don't seem to have the best health as they walk/shuffle quite slowly and in a zig zag line when moving from their camper to the OM Build facility. The dog has almost been hit several times.

Dan from Madison said...

Also, the tiny home has a composting toilet. The theory is that they will empty the toilet of the urine into the OM Build toilet at their facility and that the feces will be digested by bacteria. It is my opinion that this will simply not work and that the feces will hit the street in some fashion.

Trashhauler said...

Are these tiny houses equipped with running water, electricity and sewage? Pretty messy if not. And a continuing cost for somebody.

Trashhauler said...

I just reread the post and realized this was an Occupy Madison effort, which answered my questions. For most Occupy types, actions taken need not make sense. It is enough that they demonstrate "caring."

I once questioned the agenda of an Occupy St Louis meeting because it included presenting an item on clean up in East St Louis to the St Louis city government. I pointed out that they were having their meetings on the wrong side of the river for that issue.

Robert Cook said...

"Can we call them Obamavilles...are is that racist?"

It's not racist, but it narrows the blame unfairly. Our present dire national economic situation is the result of corporate-friendly policies passed by successive administrations and Congresses in recent decades as well as by massive frauds perpetrated by Wall Street and the banking mafia in the absence of any criminal sanctions from Washington. Perhaps the best name for the latter day Hoovervilles would be "Dimontowns," (after Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, in recognition that the financial institutions are the authors of so much of the financial ruin that has wrecked our landscape).