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Homeless Man Becomes First Resident of 3D-Printed Tiny House




  • Tim Shea was just a homeless man dreaming of moving into a house of his own.
  • Amazingly, his dream came true when he became the first person to live in a 3D-printed house in a village in Austin.
  • The small community aims to provide affordable housing for the chronically homeless.

Most people dream of living in a big expensive house. For Tim Shea, he just wanted to find a place he could call home. The 70-year-old homeless man had spent several years living on the streets until he became the first resident of a village filled with 3D-printed little houses.

Shea was chosen to be the first person to move into Community First! Village, a 51-acre site in the outskirts of Austin, Texas that filled with tiny houses for the chronically homeless. The small houses, like Shea’s 400-square-foot home, were built by the Austin-based startup company ICON.

Life wasn’t easy for Shea before moving to Community First! Village. He struggled with addiction and lived in an RV for most of his life. This made him stay away from people.

“I think from my personal experience from my former lifestyle, that I developed a shell,” Shea said. “I didn’t feel secure, and any time I had the opportunity, I would hide or isolate. I never really wanted to interact with people.”

Luckily, things changed when Shea got his new house. Since then, he has been meeting new people and making friends. “Everything I do is just the opposite, and I have many activities to do every day with others,” Shea said.

The houses built by ICON have six different layouts. Shea chose a home with an open floor plan to help with his arthritis. This way, It will be easier for him if he eventually needs a wheelchair.

Community First! is the non-profit behind the project. They put $18 million into the village in Austin in order to help the chronically homeless get off the streets. Moreover, the residents of the village only pay about $300 in rent and have job opportunities on-site.

His 3D house features one bedroom, one bath, a full kitchen, a living room, and a porch
ICON’s printer is controlled by a tablet remotely and takes a crew of four to six people to build a house

A special formulation of concrete was used for the project and applied by a 3D printer that’s basically just a concrete nozzle on the end of a giant robotic arm

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