Our mission at HUD is to “create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all” so as employees, we’re familiar with the buzzwords associated with the concept of “sustainability.” Livability. Walkability. Green design. Carbon footprint. Affordability. Retrofitting. Transit-oriented development. The list goes on.
But one of our own employees, Jay Austin, is taking sustainability and affordability to a new level. He’s currently in the process of building “The Matchbox,” a tiny, 140-square foot home that rests upon a utility trailer and resides in an urban alley lot in Washington, D.C. Last week, the Washington Post ran a feature on Jay’s community of tiny homes—and discussed the larger legal and urban planning issues facing tiny home builders.
“Tiny homes” are a growing phenomenon in the U.S. that generally refer to living structures that are small in nature—under 300 square feet is the going figure, though they get as small as 80 square feet. Tiny homes are a reconceptualization of what “home” can be: sustainable, innovative, and space-conscious design, coupled with a low cost of living and even lower physical footprint.
Jay, who works in the Office of Strategic Planning and Management, says on his blog, “My primary reason for building this home is that, simply put, I want to live simply. I want to limit my distractions and pursue my passions and devote my time to what really matters: kindness, leisure, friendship, companionship. Living in a structure that has just what’s needed, and nothing more, seems an ideal physical manifestation of that pursuit.”
An on sustainably—the Matchbox will be entirely carbon-neutral and nearly completely self-sustaining—Jay adds: “… Our biosphere is a unique and beautiful and incredibly precious entity, and though it won’t be around forever, I’d like to do my part to preserve it for as long as we can. Tiny living is simple living, and simple living is harmonious living.”
Follow his progress on building his tiny home.
Pictured: Jay Austin works on “The Matchbox,” his tiny home in Washington, D.C.