Our Vision Expands
Back in 2011, the United States saw a housing crisis of sorts – a housing crisis that followed the rash of tornadoes that hit the United States in record numbers that year. The number of deaths due to the tornadoes was 551, with the damages totaling 28 billion U.S. dollars. Close to Home recognized the need for new solutions to house people post-disaster and saw possibilities in the technology and innovation within the tiny home movement. It made perfect sense to introduce these ideas and products into this post-disaster market where they were so desperately needed.
We’ve been toiling away, spending our time and energy communicating with the people on the front lines of post-disaster communities. And all the while, as we go about our startup work based in Seattle, the housing crisis is taking a turn right before our eyes in our very own hometown. The issues of affordability, homelessness, density, and sustainability are in the news on a daily basis. As one travels through the city the news stories become very personal – you see more and more tents for the homeless popping up every day – providing some shelter to those with the most need.
These are issues that are impacting people all along the spectrum – those that are truly homeless, but also people who are spending more than they should on housing because of high rents and home values. This scenario is true in most cities across America that are experiencing economic prosperity and growth. The American dream of home ownership seems to be quickly slipping away from many. We need to think differently about the cost of acquisition of housing – instead of thinking about price per square foot – we need to focus on the lifetime cost of housing acquisition.
As our city – and cities across the nation that are facing similar issues – work to address these problems from a number of different tacks, Close to Home sees some silver linings on all of these clouds. The tiny home movement provides inspiration and hope. We must change our thinking about needs – acknowledge the importance of a roof over one’s head – the stability that it brings – and appreciate the concept of these homes. Whether we are talking about the needs of the baby boomers that are downsizing, or recent college grads, there are people all across the spectrum with varying reasons for their interest in the concept of less being more. With the numerous studies highlighted in the news regarding the positive ramifications of home ownership – or simply living at a stable address – changes in zoning that allow for detached accessory dwelling units and/or tiny home communities will make all the difference in moving these ideas forward.
The tide seems to be slowly turning – with this tiny home movement building momentum. There is a hunger to step away from the race to nowhere – a desire to simplify, to focus on what is important, to have that sense of ownership and safety, with opportunities to do more in this life than work simply to pay off a mortgage. This growing movement of people choosing to live with less so that they can have more might end up being an excellent example for what these tiny homes might do for others – for people all along the spectrum.
-Rachel Stamm, Founder & CEO, August 2015
Close to Home was born out of a desire to help solve the post-disaster housing crisis.
The idea that evolved into the business model that is now “Close to Home” was sparked by the rash of tornadoes that hit the United States in the spring of 2011. The year 2011 saw the second largest number of tornadoes recorded in one year’s time. I watched the news reports with concern. The tornado outbreaks occurred, and the stories of displacement continued. The same complaints were recounted by different people throughout the United States: temporary shelters in gymnasiums were often overcrowded and lacked privacy and security; hotel rooms were often too far from the original community; FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Association) trailers were not deployed quickly enough and there were often not enough of them; rental homes and apartments were in short supply and were unfairly priced post-disaster. The consequences of these limited and imperfect approaches have been higher costs for government and insurers and the breakdown of communities after a disaster. I wondered why there were no new solutions to address these limitations.
Close to Home (Housing) is the product of those questions and also of reflections about the issue from a perspective of sustainability on many levels. First, how can we help a community to build back more quickly? How can we prevent the loss of community cohesion—which can truly see people through the darkest of their days? If people move away from a community, whether temporarily or permanently, emotional threads are lost, leaving community ties at risk. At Close to Home, we are working toward solutions, with the understanding that housing people close to home post-disaster has positive ripple effects in numerous realms of life for communities that are rebuilding and restoring.
-Rachel Stamm, Founder & CEO, August 2014
Our Vision of Post-Disaster Housing
Costs & Alleviating Shortages
Cost efficient and innovative post-disaster housing solutions are being sustainably designed and built but few are being purchased due to the fact that these products have no central clearinghouse exposing them to the appropriate buyers. These products include flat-packed, portable designs that can be delivered quickly and assembled in a matter of hours. In order to remedy the high costs and shortages of post-disaster housing, it is crucial that these housing solutions be readily available and economically viable. Close to Home is the marketplace that fills this gap.
Community + Sustainability = Close to Home
The survival of a community after a disaster occurs is dependent upon members being able to stay together and stay as close to home – as close to the affected community – as possible. Maintaining essential connections between families, friends, neighbors, social groups and civic leaders is paramount when the goal, post-disaster, is the restoration of the community. These relationships help pave the way for an easier psychological recovery. Staying in close proximity to their schools, churches and other familiar institutions, helps people return to their normal lives more quickly. At Close to Home, we join this understanding with our value of representing shelter products that are attractive, healthy to live in and sustainably built.