(Photo: WikiMedia Commons photo)
LAS CRUCES - The Tiny House Movement seems to be drawing big interest among Las Cruces city government officials.
"I'm definitely interested in the idea" Mayor Ken Miyagishima said. "but I'd like to see more information about it."
The Las Cruces City Council will meet for a June 27 work session to learn more about and discuss the impacts of possibly establishing a tiny house subdivision in Las Cruces. In a presentation made to the council last week, a group of Las Cruces veterans, including David Boje, a New Mexico State University Regents professor in business management; Walt Baker, a retired U.S. Navy captain; Lawrence Orvis, chairman of the city's Veterans Advisory Board; Shannon Reynolds, who served in the U.S. Air Force, and Ernest Ramsey, have proposed a tiny house subdivision be established.
There isn't a clear definition for a tiny house. But a self-contained residence of 500 square feet or smaller — and on wheels so it could be moved from one location to another, is the general description of a tiny home. Because the houses are small, they would be suitable for an individual, a married couple or a small family to live in.
"It's kind of a cross between a mobile home or an RV (recreational vehicle), but similar in other ways to a condominium, or a loft apartment is another way you could describe a tiny home," said Las Crucen Raylene Trujillo, who has seen models of tiny homes in Austin, Texas, where a community of approximately 200 of the unique homes has been established.
Boje said a significant consideration of the tiny houses is their construction.
"They are tiny homes with green construction in an ecological village," Boje said. "They are completely self-contained units. They have compost toilets, a gray water system utilizing reclaimed water, solar water heaters and additional photovoltaics."
The interior of a tiny, mobile house in Portland, Oregon is shown in this undated photo. (Photo: WikiMedia Commons photo)
Boje added tiny houses are required to meet U.S. Housing and Urban Development construction guidelines, which are stricter than construction standards for recreational vehicles or mobile homes.
Boje and Baker agreed Las Cruces would be an ideal location for a subdivision of tiny houses.
"We could make it every bit compatible with the desert environment," Boje said. "We could use some the sciences developed here to work with the desert."
Baker added a tiny homes subdivision would help Las Cruces' efforts to provide suitable housing for homeless veterans. Last fall, the Veterans Administration announced the city had achievedfunctional zero status.
"Our city is one of just a few that is functionally zero," Baker said.
Monthly rent for tiny homes would likely range from $25 to $50 a month. Boje said rent-to-own agreements could also be arranged.
"There are 800 veterans on (the NMSU) campus and these options would make tiny homes affordable to them," Boje said.
That piqued interest among city councilors when initially considering a tiny home subdivision from a larger perspective.
"I would want to expand this to veterans and non-veterans alike," Councilor Olga Pedroza said.
Miyagishima agreed. "If we could do that, it would be great," he said."Because of the way today's economy is, any time we can provide additional housing opportunities, those are opportunities we need to explore.
"Nowadays, retirees want to be more mobile. ... It's very possible this type of housing could suit those needs."
However, Miyagishima said there could be problems in the city providing land, and access to utility connections. He believes convincing a private developer to provide land for a tiny homes subdivision would likely be the best way to establish a community for the small homes.
"If we're going to do it, it needs to be done right," Miyagishima said.
Photograph shows Jonathon and Charles Mooneyham's tiny cabin in Missouri. (Photo: WikiMedia Commons photo)