MSU Students Design “Small Shelters” For The Homeless

Montana State University’s architecture students must have been inspired by the “Tiny House Builders” T.V. show recently, because they’re taking concepts from the show to build “Small Shelters” for the homeless. 

After a class with MSU’s architecture professor, and cooperation with Bozeman’s Human Resources Development Council Small Shelter Initiative (HRDC), the students built two prototypes for their “Small Shelter” concept.

They built two full-size models, one large and one small. The large model is 180 square ft (9 ft by 20 ft) and is handicapped accessible. The smaller model is 150 square ft (7.5 ft by 20 ft.). The structures are designed for a sustainable sleeping pad, with a bathroom, shower, small refrigerator, microwave, and eating area. 

The students put their two models on display in the northwest corner of the first floor of Cheever Hall at the university in front of the representatives of the city of Bozeman, HRDC, the Southwest Montana Building Industry Association, and the local community to gain feedback and support for their project. I-Ho Pomeroy, the Bozeman City Commissioner, said that she loved how the students found an “attractive solution” to real problem in the local community.

Their next step is to work with local agencies to find a plot of land for these shelters. The MSU architecture professor, Ralph Johnson, says these structures are designed to be located on any unspecified city-owned land and rented by the HRDC. Johnson says the students’ goal is to place about 30 structures in several locations around Bozeman. The students are planning to fundraise between $10,000 and $15,000 this spring to build at least one real, full-scale “Small Shelter” for each of their models.

It’s great to see students taking the initiative to make a positive impact in the community. Johnson estimates that there are about 100 homeless in Bozeman, and this could be a great temporary solution for them. As we all know, winters are brutal in Montana, and it’s hard to imagine anyone surviving on the streets without shelter. 

MSU architecture students design small solution for temporary housing for homeless

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