Update 2: homelessness
On another front, last week I condemned New Orleans for joining the ranks of US cities striving to make homelessness invisible rather than trying to do something about it - and just shunting people into shelters is not an answer.
The Update here is that some places are trying to actually do something:
For example, the city of Portland, Oregon, is nearing approval of a project to construct communities of tiny homes on public land in order to house homeless and low-income residents.
The houses are indeed tiny, measuring only 192 square feet, but they are well-designed and more importantly provide a stable place of residence. Not a bed in an overcrowded shelter, but a stable place; a place, if you will, to plant your feet so you can stand back up. They would cost $250-$350 a month in rent, allowing people making as little as $5,000 a year to afford them.
Other tiny house projects of various sorts have already borne fruit in a half-dozen places, including in Wisconsin, Texas, and New York, with the houses often built by members of the local Occupy movement.
Portland hopes to have its first micro-community in place by February 2015.
Sources cited in links: