Macro Opportunities for Micro Living: Tiny Houses

Based in Atlanta, the MicroLife Institute is a nonprofit “dedicated to building walkable, sustainable “micro-hood” communities while educating individuals, groups and cities about the positive impacts of micro living.” With the contributions of Executive Director Will Johnston, the MicroLife Institute has made strides towards policy change and increased the incorporation of tiny homes throughout the Southeast.

Johnston attended the Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) 2019 Fall Conference to educate community leaders about the positive impacts of tiny homes. By guiding attendees on a tour, Johnston was able to spread the word about how sustainable and attainable micro-living is. Read further to learn more about the MicroLife Institute and how this organization is helping pave the way for micro living.

Q: What is the focus of your organization?

A: The MicroLife Institute focuses on education, advocacy, pilot projects research, and events all around the micro-built environment.

Q: In what ways will smaller homes impact the community?

A: There’s a huge shortage of small-built homes, and we need to focus on that infill to help drive workforce housing, student housing, keeping families and communities in rural areas as well as create ways for cities to offer housing closer to work.  

Q: With your focus in mind, what is your organization hoping to accomplish or discuss?

A: The MicroLife Institute focuses on the ability to have that bigger conversation around housing for the community. The real conversation needs to be had with the community in providing multiple housing options. Whether they are micro in size or well-designed we need to think progressively on policy to allow walkable density and community driven developments

Q: What is the answer to furthering the tiny-home initiative?

A: All of this can be accomplished through policy and positive perception around smaller housing options.

Q: What would you say to people who have goals to have a large home?

A: Homes don’t need to be epic in size but epic in design. We have been misled to think that success is a large home with two cars, and we need to focus on success as a thriving community and how well our built environments can add to the strength and happiness of our neighborhoods and our loved ones.

Q: So, what is the right amount of space?

A: We feel that spaces between 1500 ft.² (Missing Middle) to a tiny house (200 squared feet) are solid options to help build the right housing mix.

Q: What is “missing middle”?

A: Missing Middle housing consists of multi-unit housing types such as duplexes, fourplexes, bungalow courts and mansion apartments that are not bigger than a large house. They are integrated throughout most walkable pre-1940s neighborhoods, often integrated into blocks with primarily single-family homes. Multi-unit housing provides diverse housing choices and generate enough density to support transit and locally serving commercial amenities. Although many of these are a common feature in pre-war building stocks, these housing types have become much less common.

Q: Do you think smaller homes is a solution for everyone, even families with six or more members?

A: We are not saying everyone needs to downsize, but we need to be given the options to be able to.

Q: If someone wants to learn more about smaller housing options, how can they get in touch with you?

A: If your city is ready to have a conversation, please feel free reach out to the MicroLife Institute at info@microlifeinstitute.org. Click here to attend a MicroLife Meetup meeting.