I used to be a huge fan of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” because who doesn’t like a good cry? And boy did that show deliver! They would take the families on the verge of their houses falling apart, many of them hovering over the financial cliff, and then they would rebuild their home. On top of all that, they would often pay off their mortgage! And they really would go to extremes too. If a kid so much as mentioned that he saw a Spiderman movie once, they would build a system of nets throughout the house that would sling him into his bright red and black room.

I was watching an episode where a foster parent was given a McMansion for herself and all of these wonderful kids she took in. It was beautiful, but between sobs I started to have this line of rational adult thinking, “What happens to her property taxes?” or “It has to be more expensive to light that house than it did before, right?” I don’t know to what degree the show actually addressed these issues, but I think it opens up a broader question about sustainability.

Micro living is becoming a silent revolution, but it seems to be delegated to singles or couples without children. Unless you want to be seen as a cousin Eddy type character living on a converted school bus, there doesn’t seem to be a niche for families like ours. Families that not only want to reduce our impact on the earth, but also want to do more with our lives than spend the majority of our income on a house and house related bills.

And what if this type of living could be a solution to help reduce family poverty and homelessness? If there could be a way to truly create tiny house living that was practical for families, could we create affordable, or free sustainable living for those living without? And what would it mean for a family’s dignity to build their own home, instead of just being another person on the conveyer belt of a toxic charity model that creates dependency? What if we were teaching folks how create their own place in this world?

It isn’t just enough to say that others should do it! If we really believe that this could be a solution to help others, then we aren’t any different. We need to be the example, not just a sounding board.


Nathan Monk is a husband, father, author, and former Orthodox priest who writes about growing up in childhood homelessness, and brings awareness to the social and justice issues related to first world poverty.

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