Beginning in July 2020: My objective is to plan tiny house projects across Maryland on a part-time, in-kind, quarterly basis, to benefit residents in-need, who live in areas where there is poor supply and high demand for affordable, quality homes for single individuals and small families. (That’s the plan, now to keep to it!)

Vision Summary

Mr. Justin Fair (MCRP, 2020 Morgan State University) is a Baltimore resident who regularly travels across Maryland by car, train and internet. He consults on projects built in tandem with individuals who earn low-to-moderate median area income, who are often left-out of innovative projects: specifically People of color, women, seniors, and innovative affinity groups like veterans and artists. These groups stand to benefit the most from living in or building tiny homes but are often overlooked by those with means, who can afford to brave initial risks and often dominate the national narrative, reinforcing  white-washing in tiny living. Mr. Fair’s Master’s thesis outlined rubrics, land use methods, and messages that he now works to expand locally across the State.

Planning…Works

Typically, this work remedying societal disparities common in tiny house construction involves a long massage and cultivation of both people and ordinances within offices of community planning and development. Mr. Fair spots opportunities, overlaps and holes in land use, zoning, urban design, housing, and community development so concepts become funded realities. He knows that neighbors and officials need time, a firm grip, licensed resources, and a strong heart, to ease misconceptions and pigeonholes.

A Vision of Investment

Whether homes are built on or permanently affixed to foundations, or whether they are mobile or portable Tiny Homes on wheels, each type can speak directly to Marylanders’ values of independence, adaptability, and mobility. To those who explicitly value tiny living, that is, Marylanders who want to live purposefully, frugally and economically in well-lit, open, ergonomic, and neighborly small homes, the house form fits. They can personalize their homes, establish security and invest wisely in their future by reclaiming their domestic sense of place and self while building equity at a scale they can manage. When strategically introduced with reasonable commonsense management, like locating projects only near a walkable, central amenity, such as a childcare center, grocery, clinic, civic center, or transit node, Tiny Homes offer an alternative model for housing more individuals at lower cost than standard single family homes, apartments, and temporary housing alone. The challenge is that the house form often carries stigmas due to lack of representation from enthused People of Color, each end of classist opinions, and there are still hyper-local ordinances and cultural nuances that must be massaged. Tiny Homes aren’t for everyone, so any project should carefully analyze their market, messages, and motives.

Maryland Resources

  • Mr. Fair’s thesis offers a set of proposals, rubrics, analysis and Maryland area contact and photo book, following a winter 2020 questionnaire of over 90 responses focused on Baltimore and on Blackness.
  • Findings and analysts begin on P. 47. A statewide contact list is in the appendix and online.
  • He looks forward to expanding this work in a part-time, in-kind basis, by building a Maryland Tiny Houses Coalition E-mail List.
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