Tiny House Ownership - A Big Solution to California's Affordable Housing Problem
California housing is some of the most expensive in the nation. And right now, homeownership in California has never been more unattainable, with the median home price exceeding $800,000. For the youth we serve, those leaving foster care without the support of a forever home or family, even affordable housing is out of reach with long waiting lists and red tape in the way. That’s why Finally Family Homes has developed an innovative Tiny House Ownership program to get these young adults into safe housing they can proudly own for life.
At Finally Family Homes, it’s our mission to partner with youth aging out of foster care to help the achieve lasting success.
We work alongside promising young adults to help them build to own their own tiny houses on wheels in Santa Clarita, CA. Our program makes ownership attainable to them for a fraction of the cost of low-income housing.
How Tiny House Ownership Will Benefit Our Youth and Community
When a young adult joins our Tiny House program, they will be given an opportunity to be placed in a caring and safe transitional host home while they work on their tiny house. They will receive additional wrap-around services including life skills through our Life Launch program, to help them build and maintain success in multiple areas of life.
Unlike the “tiny houses” going up around Los Angeles, tiny homes on wheels will be beautifully crafted, owned, and maintained by the young adults living in them. These upwardly mobile young adults will have demonstrated the tenacity, acuity, and responsibility to build and help pay for their own living space.
Please note that all spaces in our current cohort of builders & apprentices have been filled at this time and we are not accepting applications at the moment.
The Benefits of Tiny House Ownership
Living in an owned tiny home means that our youth can have more control over their environment. They can paint the walls, upgrade their bathroom, or make any other personalization or investment not allowed in a rental. They can make sure maintenance is done properly and in a timely manner, avoiding the risks of being stuck under a slumlord.
Tiny Homeownership means a young adult can have a lower cost of living, paying only for parking fees. And thanks to new Los Angeles city laws, they can park them in the backyards of safer neighborhoods with a layer of protection from the front house. Their tiny house also allows them to walk out their front door to access a yard and a more life-giving space than an affordable rental apartment or group home setting.
Currently, talks are in progress in Santa Clarita to make tiny houses on wheels legal ADU’s as well.
Owning a tiny house on wheels means freedom and flexibility. A young adult can move across town or across the country for a new job or another college and take their home with them.
For more information on ADUs in California, download this handbook from the California Department of housing.
Foster Care and California's Affordable Housing Crisis
Median California Home Price in April 2022
Aged Out Foster Youth Experience Homeless by Age 26.
Average Amount Spent for 1 Bdrm CA Housing Voucher
Our Estimated Cost to Provide Permanent Tiny Homes to Homeless Youth
Why Have Youth Build Their Own Tiny Homes?
By building their own tiny homes, our young adults learn valuable career skills in construction, one of the fastest-growing job markets in Southern California. By equipping our youth with construction skills, they help fill the gap of a local labor shortage. And our young adults become empowered to affordably maintain and upgrade their own homes.
Not only this, but as many tiny homeowners who’ve built their own tiny homes will tell you, you get a powerful sense of confidence from living in a home built by your own hands. You are surrounded by the work you’ve invested in and a reminder of your accomplishments.
Through our program youth essentially get rent to own tiny homes – being able to live in them while paying towards half the cost. Once they’ve put in their time and paid their part, they achieve full ownership.
How Much Do Tiny Houses Usually Cost?
Tiny Home Cost
The cost to build a tiny house varies wildly. Jay Shafer, known as the Godfather of the tiny home movement built this house for $5,000. That’s definitely one of the cheap tiny homes. On the high end, this decked-out farmhouse model from California tiny home builder, Dream Tiny Houses, is currently on the market for $199,000.
And if you’re wondering, “Is it cheaper to buy or build a tiny house?” Generally speaking for those who buy, it most often costs between $40,000 – $80,000. For those who build, it can cost half as much or less. However, for safety purposes, it’s important that you get skilled help where needed (electrical, plumbing, etc.) or the risks of shoddy work could negate any of the savings.
With the help of donated materials and volunteer skilled laborers, we estimate we can build our tiny houses at Finally Family Homes for about $30,000 or less.
Thank you to Pad Tiny Houses for generously sharing your beautiful Hikari tiny house plans with us. Visit Pad Tiny Houses to learn more about their designs and homes.
What States Allow Tiny Houses?
While many states don’t have specific laws regarding the building and placement of tiny houses. This is mostly because lawmakers aren’t sure how to categorize a tiny home on wheels. For the most part, you will find zoning laws that affect living in tiny houses are local – by county and city, not to mention neighborhood associations.
It will be important for our youth to research before moving, but the good news is that tiny homes on wheels are becoming more widely accepted across the country. We can help our young adults navigate the local laws – whether the tiny house is legally considered a recreational vehicle, mobile, home, or ADU. If you’re curious to know more about where tiny homes are legal, check out this article by Go Downsize.
Additionally, if you are curious about what goes into getting insurance for a tiny house on wheels, read this article from Policy Genius.
Why Are Tiny Homes Illegal?
Tiny homes aren’t technically “illegal.” That is to say, they aren’t necessarily specifically outlawed. But depending on your jurisdiction they could be categorized in a way that violates zoning laws. For example, a city may have laws against living in a recreational vehicle in certain zones. If you park in a bard yard in that city, and they consider your tiny house a recreational vehicle, you could get into trouble.
As for California, according to Business Insider, California is the most popular place in the country for tiny home living. Yet parking a tiny home on wheels in Los Angeles only became legal in December 2019. There are many tiny home communities all around California. In fact, Fresno was the first city in the nation to approve tiny homes on wheels as legal dwelling units.
Where to Park Tiny Homes in Calfiornia
Several cities across the state allow them:
- Los Angeles (visit here to see LA zoning laws for tiny houses on wheels)
- San Jose
- San Diego
- Placer County
- Santa Clara County