For Immediate Release

July 15, 2014  |  Eugene, OR


Bring on the Tiny House Villages!

A new book takes a look at how tent cities organized by the homeless are opening the doors to sustainable housing options.


Homeless encampments, commonly known as tent cities, have been reported to be on the rise in the United States since the economic recession, and Andrew Heben believes that tiny house villages provide a solution. His new book, Tent City Urbanism: From Self-Organized Camps to Tiny House Villages, tells of how those experiencing homelessness are pioneering these low-cost, low-impact developments in cities throughout the country.


“Despite federally mandated 10-year plans to end homelessness, a majority of states are still reporting an increase in the number of people going unhoused,” said Heben. “This comes at a time when resources for providing emergency shelter are expected to continue to decline.” To further escalate the crisis, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has recently declared that we are amidst “the worst rental affordability crisis this country has ever known.”


Tent City Urbanism provides a fresh take on homelessness, leaving the reader with cost-effective models for transitional and affordable housing that are within the grasp of local communities. This is achieved by combining the positive social dynamics that Heben has found present in many tent cities with an improved infrastructure in the form of tiny houses.


Portland’s Dignity Village, Eugene’s Opportunity Village, and Olympia’s Quixote Village have blazed the trail for this unconventional form of development, and the concept has since emerged from the Pacific Northwest to inspire projects like Madison’s OM Village, Ithaca’s Second Wind Cottages, and Austin’s Community First Village.


“The phenomenon has implications beyond homelessness,” said Heben, “It is opening the door to sustainable, human-scale housing options for other demographics as well—including those currently devoting an unsustainably high percentage of their income toward rent and those looking to simplify their lives and downsize their environmental footprint.”


Heben is a co-founder of Opportunity Village Eugene, a non-profit organization that puts many of the ideas presented in his book into action locally. Opportunity Village opened in August 2013 and now provides transitional micro-housing to 30 otherwise homeless individuals and couples at a time. The organization is now planning its next project, Emerald Village, which will apply a similar concept to long-term, affordable housing.


Prior to this, Heben traveled throughout the country studying more than a dozen tent cities—including a one-month stay at Camp Take Notice in Ann Arbor, MI—as part of his award winning urban planning thesis at the University of Cincinnati. He found that the informal settlements often exemplify self-management, direct democracy, tolerance, mutual aid, and resourceful strategies for living with less.


His new book compiles these four years of research and experience to define innovative models for addressing homelessness, housing affordability, and sustainable development.


You can get a copy of the book from the author’s website, Amazon, or locally in Eugene at Tsunami Books.



For all media inquiries please contact Andrew Heben at Review copies available upon request.