Chris Derrick and Betty Ybarra have been homeless for almost a year in Madison, Wis.
But on Christmas Eve, they got their own home, which was built by more than 50 volunteers (including themselves) from the progressive activist group Occupy Madison (video below).
"Everybody did a part. It's been a community effort,” Ybarra told the Associated Press. "It's exciting. I've never owned my own house."
The house is only 96-square-feet, but it is a roof over their heads and protection against the harsh winter.
"There's no comparison between having a place to go at night, and close the door, and sleep comfortably, and not freeze to death or have your possessions stolen,” said volunteer Luca Clemente.
According to Trulia.com, the average house in Madison sells for $284,167, locking low-income and many middle class people out of the market.
Madison had 831 homeless people in January, which included 110 families, noted ForwardLookout.com. That's when the “Tiny House Project” began.
The Tiny House Project builds small homes that include a bed, kitchen and a toilet. The homes are powered by a solar panel and heated with propane.
These $3,000 homes are mounted on trailers that can be legally parked on the street.
The Madison Common Council voted in October to change the zoning laws so the tiny homes could be parked on the property of churches and other non-profit organizations, noted The Cap Times.
“It’s not just a shelter, it’s a commitment to a lifestyle,” said Brenda Konkel, the executive director of the Tenant Resource Center. “It’s a co-op mixed with Habitat for Humanity mixed with eco-village as the long-term goal.”