A homeless Wisconsin couple moved into a “tiny home” Christmas Eve they helped build with fellow Occupy Madison members.
Chris Derrick and Betty Ybarra had been living since April in an encampment at a county park with other members of the protest group, which plans to build more small homes with college students and other volunteers for the city’s growing homeless population.
A citywide count in January found 831 homeless people – a 47 percent increase over three years – in Madison, where the average home sale costs nearly $300,000.
The protest group, which grew out of the Occupy Wall Street movement to protest wealth inequality, put together teams of volunteers to build two houses using a basic blueprint that can be adapted to fit the creators’ tastes.
The homeless volunteers earn their houses – which include a bed, toilet and insulation – by working under the supervision of more experienced builders.
The $3,000 homes, which are paid for through private donations, are mounted on trailers so they don’t require a plot of land and can be parked legally on the street as long as they’re moved every 48 hours.