Tiny Homes for the Homeless Made of Salvaged and Recycled Materials


Artist Gregory Kloehn has been quietly addressing the problem of homelessness in Oakland by building a number of unique, tiny homes for the homeless using repurposed and salvaged materials. This initiative is called the Homeless Homes Project and through it, Gregory has already provided several homes for the area’s homeless. To build the homes, he uses primarily illegally dumped garbage and industrial waste solving several problems at once.

To build these tiny homes, Gregory uses anything that can somehow become part of a home, including a discarded washing machine front, which is used as a window, as well as bed frames, sofa frames, and even refrigerator shelves. The main building blocks he uses to build these homes are pallets, plywood, OSB, packing crates and more. The pellets are normally used to build the basic frame and base, though he also uses more creative building blocks such as car consoles. When searching for building materials, Gregory looks for anything that consists of real wood, tempered glass and sturdy frames. He then buys the nails, screws, glue, paint brushes and saw blades needed to turn the refuse into homes. When a home is completed, he pushes it into the street, takes a few photos and then gives it away.


All of the homes are also fitted with wheels so the owners can move them around if they need to. The homes also come equipped with locks for security and privacy. These homes are usually only big enough to fit a bed and some storage space, and take about three days to construct. The houses are also painted with bright colors and given fun names, such as R2D2, Romanian Farm House, Uni-bomber Shack and The Chuck Wagon, which Gregory believes helps give the new owners added hope for the future.



He started the project on his own, but since then several local community groups and volunteers have expressed an interest in helping him. They are currently planning to move all activities into a larger space that can accommodate workshops and allow for larger builds.

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  • Madame M

    These are marvelous. I love reuse idea, that they portable and I find them delightful in appearance. I live in Oakland, my daughter said she saw one down the street from where she lives. Maybe this is part of the solution to the homeless problem. Now all we need to do is to bring back some kind of public bathhouses/toilet. It may not be an ideal situation, but it’s something.

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  • http://becauseisaidsothathswhy.blogspot.com/ Dana Jacobs Bjornstad

    They look like dog houses. And, where would they be allowed to be kept?

  • http://becauseisaidsothathswhy.blogspot.com/ Dana Jacobs Bjornstad

    They look like dog houses. And, where would they be allowed to be kept?

    • Madame M

      The Taj Mahal they may not be, but they do beat the card board boxes, blue tarp, shopping cart structures that typically inhabit many East Bay neighborhoods. With rents raising, many people are being squeezed out of their homes. Not to mention that California’s good weather seems to be a magnet for people from all walks of life. I don’t see the homeless situation going away anytime soon. I’d rather an abandon lot filled with brightly colored mini homes then the aforementioned any day. If you have an alternative suggestion, please post it.

      • http://becauseisaidsothathswhy.blogspot.com/ Dana Jacobs Bjornstad

        I don’t disagree that there is a need for housing for homeless people, but I cannot imagine where cities would allow those things to be set up.

    • amoyer147

      This is so sad that this artist developed these for homeless people. I guess this guy thinks of homeless as abandoned dogs. That is so sad that he thinks they are not people.

      My first thought was they are dog houses. This is just wrong. If you want to take care of homeless people give them food or if you are a business owner give them a job if they qualify. Providing them a home that is a dog house is degrading to them.

      I didn’t think of the cities allowing them, i just couldn’t get past the dog house to have any other thoughts. Looking back at the pictures now, what is preventing him from making them larger. If it is all about just the size restrictions why not make them the geo-desic domes like the high school kid did a year ago. That was more human than this is for homeless people.

      Just so dis-respectful of the homeless.

      • Madame M

        I belive they are small so they are portable, not to mention they are built from salvaged parts. Why are Americans so obsessed with size? Until more permanent solutions are put in place this sure beats plastic tarp tents and shopping carts.

        • amoyer147

          It is not my need for them to be larger for the sake of being larger. It is the fact they are the size of a dog house. The majority of Americans are humane, but this design is not. This has more of a psychological side that I oppose these. Psychologically are they better off in a dog house given to them or a plastic tent they obtained themselves, the tent is the better choice.

          They can be portable but larger at the same time. But at the same time they are not gonna be soo portable that they can move these across town, even these have their limits.

          The ones with the ability to have a larger space are the ones who work for it. I want a larger size so I can have my own personal space. If I am looking at a 600 SF house versus a 1200 SF house, I take the 1200 SF house. I enjoyed going to the Solar Decathalon when in DC, but they are not feasible homes for 2 people or a family. They are tops of 2 bedrooms and most of their living spaces are the size of an average 1950s kitchen. They are also built to show off what the alternatives techniques can do on a small scale. Now if they were required to build a min. 1800 SF house with a garage then lets see how effective this is.

          Other places don’t have area for larger size houses. We also make more than the average person. Then what country are you from?

  • cosmicmariner

    While these might provide shelter, they are not homes. Dog houses and coffins come to mind.

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