Emergency Sleeping Cabins for Homeless FAQs
These frequently asked questions and answers are provided by Amikas, a nonprofit dedicated to making sure every woman and child has a safe place to live and sleep. There is currently an exhibit at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in North Park which the Union Tribune featured.
Emergency Sleeping Cabin FAQs as of January 28, 2018
How big are they?
The cabins are 8’x12′ or 96 square feet. The walls are 7 1/2′ tall.
How easy are they to set up?
Two people with two screw guns can assemble the frame in under two hours. The rest takes the balance of the day.
Are they weatherproof?
Yes. The roofing and siding have sealing tape applied at the seams. For additional protection, the roof peak and the siding seams are covered with wood trim.
Are they warm in winter and cool in summer?
Yes. They are insulated to help maintain more even internal temperatures.
Aren’t they noisy?
No. The insulation provides some soundproofing as well. With fabric wall coverings the insulation also provides a quieter and more peaceful environment.
Are they expensive?
No. The I-Wood frame is $400. The finished unit is less than $2,000.
Are they safe?
Yes. A steel exterior door with two locks and factory-made windows provide safety and security.
Are they boxy?
No. The gable roof provides extra height for a sense of spaciousness.
What about electricity?
A solar panel can be added to power a light or two and recharge a cell phone.
What about hygiene?
The units can include a marine toilet or composting toilet. Groups of cabins could include dedicated bathroom units or porta-potties. Two organizations currently provide mobile showers around the county, and careful placement of cabins could enable more mobile showers to service regular routes more frequently.
What about meals?
Large enough groups of cabins can come with support buildings such as communal kitchens. Smaller groups may require more creative cooking solutions when that is sustainable, such as barbecues and solar ovens. Smaller groups will also be more readily supported by local churches, civic organizations, nonprofits and less formal groups of people already providing meal service throughout the county.
Will they fit in my neighborhood?
Yes! The exterior can be finished in several ways to blend in with the surrounding style. This includes wood or vinyl siding and an improved stucco equivalent.
Are they disposable?
No. When the need for them has diminished, the units can be taken apart completely and stored flat for a future emergency.
Why is Amikas promoting cabins versus group shelters?
- Autonomy: When you give a person (or a family) a house key, they have the autonomy to come and go as needed. This gives them the most flexibility and sense of freedom to begin getting their lives back on track.
- Economy: For $2,000 we can provide a family housing that will last the full three years of AB932 and beyond.
- Scalability: For $6 million we could house 3,000 families. Even more families will be served as permanent housing is gradually identified to free up cabins for the next ones waiting for shelter.
- Mastery: These cabins are the only option offered that provides the chance for those experiencing homelessness to help be a pat of their own solution from the ground up. By helping assemble their housing, they immediately gain a sense of control and power over their current circumstance.
- Adaptability: A cabin can be ADA compliant by adding a ramp and a 36″ door.
- Community: People experiencing homelessness often form small communities to increase their safety and survival rate. Groups of cabins can accommodate this better than large shelters.
- YIMBY: (Yes In My Back Yard) Part of the stigma and challenge of homelessness today is that large numbers of people are concentrated in small areas. This leads to the resistant response of “I want to help but I don’t want them in my backyard or neighborhood.” By housing people in small groups of individual cabins, we hope to dispell this resistance, making it easier for neighborhoods to accept and incorporate as smoothly as a new single family home or two.
Will this work for everyone experiencing homelessness?
No. Some people will not be suited to be given a house key and the autonomy to direct their own path back to permanent, self-sufficient housing.