Homeless 'huts' to provide shelter during monsoon

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson's washes are a popular place to call home for the city's homeless. When the monsoon comes, however, they'll have to leave at the risk of flooding and have few options for places to stay.

Community Supported Shelters, a new group led by homeless advocate Michele Ream, says "homeless huts" may be a solution.

"The traditional shelter, due to lack of space, due to lack of identification requirements. There are just no options for them. I was like, we have to do better," Ream said.

Two 8x9 sample huts are currently built next to the Central City Assembly Church on 10th Avenue near downtown. They are made of salvaged materials and cost roughly $150 to build, according to Ream.

The temporary shelters are paid for through donations, said Ream, who is also pursuing partnerships with non-profit groups for further funding.

The project is modeled after similar initiatives in Eugene, Oregon and Madison, Wisconsin -- places that see their share of severe weather.

There are no toilet or showers installed in the current models. Ream said those facilities would need to be provided from the group hosting the huts.

"They're building on church property because of the Religious Land Use Act. They're not designed for full-time habitation. They're under 120-square feet. There's also several versions of this around town on an informal basis, where neighbors and property owners have said there's a homeless person in our neighborhood. We need to shelter them," Ream said.

Ream has been collaborating with an architect to create a prototype hut that could be easily built by volunteers.

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