The Yurt: An Ancient Housing Solution for Modern Day Homelessness and Deforestation

By July 13, 2016Uncategorized

The Yurt: An Ancient Housing Solution for Modern Day Homelessness and Deforestation
Yurts have been used since 4th century B.C by the people of central and east Asia, and are still regularly used in various regions throughout the world today. The ancient Mongolian people credited for the invention of the yurt used these structures as their sole housing structure- a true constructive treasure that was able to overcome severe weather climates, fill the need for a transportable semi-permanent dwelling, and lay the foundation of the concept of sustainable dwellings. With valor, yurts satisfied the immediate needs of the Asian people, and have since gone down in history as a smart option for housing and general construction in almost any region.
Over the centuries, the pressing social issues have changed to match the times. Unfortunately, despite many notable advancements, society has only begun down the path of a sustainable future. The public listing of official social issues in the US documents a variety of troublesome social problems, such as homelessness and deforestation. These issues impact the public on a daily basis, no matter how gradually.
It is these concerning global hurtles that have already begun to take a toll on the overall health and well being of the Hawai’ian islands. In this brief article, we will address some key social issues that can be alleviated or diminished entirely through the usage of sustainable yurts as opposed to conventional structures.

The Factors of Homelessness

According to the United States 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, “In January 2014, 578,424 people were homeless on a given night. Most (69 percent) were staying in residential programs for homeless people, and the rest (31 percent) were found in unsheltered locations.” That is over half a million people throughout the United States without a regular dwelling to call home.
To understand how such a staggering number of homeless people can become a very evident reality, one must understand where the social and systematic issues lie in the foundation of daily social activities, so here they are: The two most common factors leading to an individual or family’s homelessness are unseen or unexpected life events (such as loss of a job, a bounced paycheck, or natural disaster) along with the nationwide lack of affordable housing. Of course, the first factor, unseen life events, is socially uncontrollable, as it varies according to the individual in question. The second factor, however, regarding a lack of affordable housing for low income families and individuals is a fixable social problem, however an exact solution can be hard to determine due to arguments between political parties on how tax dollars can be spent effectively.

The Effects of Deforestation

Contrary to popular belief, deforestation is not just a phenomenon found in the Amazon and other distant rain forests. The massive destruction of US rain forests occurs on a daily basis in the Hawai’ian rain forests, Rocky Mountains, and Sierra Nevadas, resulting in the loss and contamination of habitats and natural resources. A large percentage of the deforestation paradox is attributed to the housing and building market, which rarely uses sustainably manufactured lumber. Deforestation causes permanent damage to rain forest eco-systems, which are key elements in the world’s clean air supply and support some of the most complex natural habitats on the planet.

An Economic Solution

Over time, yurts have been glorified for their simplicity and affordability. Yurts are an extremely affordable method of impact free housing, and are proposed to be the ideal solution to today’s worsening shortage of affordable living quarters. A 16′ yurt can comfortably fit five twin sized cots, with enough room to spare for a kitchen area and small amounts of personal space. Yurt manufacturers such as Back Yard yurts offer standard 16′ yurts for under 10K- an excellent price to permanently house either a family unit or five full grown individuals when compared to the cost of building and temporary housing such as shelters across the country, that only reduce the symptoms of homelessness rather than addressing the problem directly.
When we compare yurts to the typical dwelling, the differences are staggering. If government funds or a private party were to hypothetically build enough conventional homes to sustain the masses of homeless people nationwide, the negative impact on the country’s land, real estate, and budget would be crippling due to the monumental amount of space, building supplies, and costs that would be allocated to the project. A perfect explanation as to why the yurt is a realistic solution to homelessness is the fact that yurts are extremely small compared to traditional style rancher and multi-story homes, and therefore take up less space per family unit. This allows, when needed, many people to create a close knit, affordable, and sustainable community.
Because yurts are generally 320 times smaller than conventional homes and are not considered permanent structures, yurts are able to be manufactured and erected for a fraction of what a conventional home costs to build. According to the official study: US Median and Average Sales Price of New Homes Sold in 2014, the average selling price of a home (without interest, property taxes, and utilities) was about $272,000. Taking that average sale price and comparing it against the $9K or so it would take to erect one yurt, the US would be able to install thirty one yurts able to house up to five people each. This means for the same price of a single family dwelling, yurts are able to house 155 homeless men, women, and children, who would permanently benefit from such a smart use of working capital!
On another note, to fight the effects of deforestation, yurts are a great way to lessen your home’s effect on the environment. As we mentioned above, yurts are impact free structures that do not hard the foundation they sit on. Because they also have a circular shape, these economical dwelling are able to circulate air fluidly, and have great insulating properties, eliminating the need for gas and electric heat. The simple building design requires very little construction supplies, and therefore makes even the design itself an eco-friendly alternative to contemporary dwellings. Yurts are also able to be connected to solar panels, turbines, and windmills for additional fees to create a fully sustainable “off the grid” structure. For people who take deforestation seriously, or for those who simply want to make less of an impact on the environment, yurts are definitely the right type of home for you.

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About Ohana Yurts

Ohana Yurts was founded on the dream of building an eco-village for the Positive Energetics Foundation on Oahu’s North Shore. At the time, there were no Hawai’i based yurt manufacturers to purchase from, forcing Positive Energetics to source yurts off of the mainland.