Chris Derrick and Betty Ybarra have spent almost a year having to endure Madison, Wisconsin’s often-harsh climate without a home to protect them from the elements.
But thanks to more than 50 volunteers from Occupy Madison, they spent this Christmas in their own home. The group, which is Madison’s local offshoot of the Occupy movement, spent the past year developing a revolutionary plan to build small homes for the state capital’s homeless population.
According to a citywide count in January of this year, 831 homeless people are living in Madison, which is a 47% increase during the past 3 years. Making matters worse, 110 families with children were among those on the streets.
The “Tiny House Project” plan called for volunteers to build micro-homes that still include all the living essentials: a bed, proper insulation, a toilet, propane heating, and a solar panel to power the house. The houses only cost about $3,000 to build and they are all funded by private donations.
Occupy Madison hopes to eventually buy a plot of land and create a small village with as many as 30 homes.
“It’s not just a shelter, it’s a commitment to a lifestyle,” said Brenda Konkel, who heads a tenants’ rights non-profit in Madison. “It’s a co-op mixed with Habitat for Humanity mixed with eco-village as the long-term goal.”
On Christmas Eve, Ybarra and Derrick moved into their new home. Ybarra said that she’d never owned her own home before, much less one she helped build.
Watch an RT report on the story in the video below: