CHICAGO — As the city struggles to find adequate housing for migrants, the founder of a West Side-based company says a home prototype could be part of the solution.
“Our fundamental belief at Inherent is that everyone deserves a dignified home,” said Inherent L3C Founder and CEO Tim Swanson.
After months of conversations, the microhome only took a few days to build before being transported to Monroe and Racine in the West Loop.
“This was actually produced in our K-town facility in North Lawndale with an amazing crew of 20 women and men from the West and South sides of Chicago,” Swanson said. “Some of which have trade experience, many of which have been building homes for the first time.”
Swanson said he and his 8-year-old daughter plan to spend the weekend living in the microhome.
“It’s 80-square-feet,” Swanson said. “It has electricity, so it’s heated and cooled. There’s fresh air, so it’s isolated but it doesn’t have plumbing, so we have a small composting toilet.”
The temporary homes could be paired with portable toilets and showers. Swanson envisions the microhome as a way to quickly activate vacant land and underutilized parking lots to address the urgent need for shelter amongst unhoused people, including newly arrived asylum seekers.
The microhome, Swanson believes, is an alternative option to police stations crowded with people inside and outside with tents lining sidewalks.
Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward) says it could be a win for the city.
“If there’s a will, there’s a way,” Burnett said. “If we want to make this happen, we can make it happen. We’re making it happen with tents.”
While the mayor is moving forward with controversial plans to build winterized base camps and implement a 60-day shelter stay limit, busses continue to arrive daily. Swanson says microhomes should be a component of the city’s response.
“We know the weather continues to get colder,” he said. “We know our population continues to swell. So any solution that’s warm, safe, secure, dry, that’s where our heart is.”
Each microhome costs less than 20,000 dollars to build. Over the next 100 days, the hope is to raise enough money to build 100 microhomes.