Tiny Tuesday: State of the Commonwealth

What’s Massachusetts doing for tiny house living these days? Two recent news articles show that on a local level, change is underway.

The island getaway of Nantucket faces a housing shortage. Seasonal residents who cater to tourism each summer, as well as year-round renters, simply can’t afford to live anywhere on the island. This Boston Globe article peeks behind the curtain and finds residents sleeping in basements, pickup trucks, and garden sheds. With an eye on their health and safety, Nantucket might become the first town in the state to allow dwellings under 500 square feet.

There once was a man from isn’t much land on Nantucket, so many houses built under the new ordinance would be accessory dwellings. The law would limit the tiny houses to one per lot, and would require them to include running water, septic, and electricity. It would also require the town to approve tiny houses case-by-case, ensuring they meet building and fire codes.

Meanwhile, in western Massachusetts, the town of Greenfield votes today on whether to permit a tiny house community. This development comes two months after the nearby town of Hadley voted against accessory dwellings, forcing former Mount Holyoke student Sarah Hastings out of the tiny house she built as a student (pictured above). As this Masslive article states, Greenfield voters will have to approve accessory dwellings in order for the one-acre pocket neighborhood to move forward.

Both Nantucket and Greenfield propose to extend their new laws only to houses on foundations – trailers will not be allowed. This limitation will prevent a manufactured home or fifth-wheel trailer from making the cut. I’ve noted before that many homes are built on wheels not for mobility but simply to evade minimum-square-footage laws, so the tiny-house-on-foundation trend is an important step.

Thanks to David and Brett Silverstein.

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