KC Tiny House Collective dreams big

Courtesy Small House Catalogue

Courtesy Small House Catalogue

When he starts talking about the tiny house movement in Kansas City, Josh Farmer turns to a quote from Victor Hugo.

“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

For Farmer and other members of the Kansas City Tiny House Collective, it seems like this might be the perfect time – and the perfect place – for talking about a village of tiny houses. The city is making vacant property available for a small price through the Land Bank. More and more people are becoming interested in the downsizing, living more simply, and freeing themselves from material possessions. And the City of Kansas City seems quite interested in the collective’s ideas about creating a small village of tiny homes somewhere in the urban core.

“Every day we say to each other, ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’” he says.


A tiny home in Kansas City.

A few years ago, Farmer lived in Upstate New York in a “normal sized house,” but realized one day he was working 50 or 60 hours a week to afford it. Now he’s trying to move toward a two-day work week, “affording the opportunity to work less and be in life more.”

At least, his tiny house journey began that way. He moved from Upstate New York to Kansas, chasing affordable land prices. But he encountered obstacles finding a town without regulatory red tape. Until he found Kansas City, where he found planners at city hall very open to the idea that tiny houses could contribute to a rebirth of housing options.

As he researched options for his own house, Farmer kept meeting others with similar ideas. Nine months ago they started a Facebook Page and now Farmer is the president of Tiny House Collective. Its goal is to create a village of up to 12 tiny homes on abandoned property in Kansas City, and make them affordable options for low-income people.

The first step is an education center at 22nd and Brooklyn, which the collective hopes to open  before winter. A donated 400-square-foot cabin there will become an office space, education center, and even a place where people can try out sleeping in a tiny house. The site will also have a building space, tool library and gardening area.

The next step is breaking ground on a “pocket neighborhood,” sort of a subdivision of tiny houses within an existing Kansas City neighborhood. Farmer says he has been working with city planners and the land bank and working out details. He’s be pleasantly surprised to find the current zoning code will allow this type of development to happen.

The pocket neighborhood idea is catching on in other places. Farmer says the village allows each resident to have individual space, but “you still have a community.” A pocket neighborhood might have shared community space for entertaining, a large kitchen, or larger-scale washers and dryers. A group of artists might have a shared gallery space. Farmer envisions any tiny home village including gardening areas in its green space.

The details are still to be worked out. Its possible the tiny house village could be in Midtown, Farmer says, but land values tend to be more affordable farther east, and land bank properties are located further east as well.

Of one thing Farmer is sure. Although they are intended for low-income people and those who want to live as simply as possible, the homes the collective helps to build are going to be “artful.”

“They’re going to be beautiful. We want to initial every piece as art,” he says.

Find out more about tiny homes

  • Tiny House Collective 
  • Saturday event: Tiny House Collective Kansas City (THCKC) and Whole Foods Market are throwing a free family friendly event Saturday, Aug. 29 at the Whole Foods Market, 7401 W 91st Street, Overland Park from 1 to 4 p.m. Participants can walk a tiny house floor plan, learn about grey water recycling and solar panel installations, get environmental information from Bridging the Gap, learn about environmentally friendly cleaning products like those from local Epic Cleaning Products, and sample foods from local vendors including Green Dirt Farms and Mean Vegan.
  • Tiny House plans and photos are available online at Small House Catalogue

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