After the flood disaster in the German Ahr Valley in the summer of 2021, almost 100 people who had become homeless found temporary accommodation in Tiny Houses. The social needs of the victims were also taken into account through the construction of a community house.
Extreme storms led to flash floods and massive flooding in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia in July 2021. The Ahr Valley was particularly affected. More than 135 people died and over 800 people were injured due to the flooding. Many residents lost their homes, given that the water masses from the otherwise small river Ahr destroyed or severely damaged around 9,000 buildings.
It quickly became clear that many people would not have shelter in the near future. However, the problem is that disaster management arrangements are usually only designed for short periods of several days, not weeks or months.
The municipality of Grafschaft, only a few kilometres from the Ahr, was less massively affected by the floods and thus became a hub for relief activities.
Victims of the flood disaster were to be given longer-term accommodation until they had found a new permanent place to stay or had rebuilt their destroyed housing. In addition, people in need were to be provided with a social meeting and information point.
The municipality of Grafschaft made its own land available on which the "Haribo hilft" association of the local confectionery manufacturer Haribo set up 25 temporary, winter-proof Tiny Houses only a few months after the flood disaster. The houses are 33 square metres in size and have two bedrooms, a combined living/kitchen/dining area, and a bathroom.
At the end of 2022, a 140-square-metre community house was built next to the Tiny Houses as a meeting point for residents of the Tiny Houses and other flood victims. At the community house, they can also find low-threshold counselling and support services from the Caritas welfare organisation. The house, built of polymer concrete blocks and wood, was financed by donations from the Polish Caritas.
Victims of the flood - especially families - found a new temporary home in the Tiny Houses only a few months after the disaster. With the community house, they have a place for their social concerns and needs.
Key sustainability criteria were taken into account in the project. For example, the community house, which is made of recycled material and built according to the Lego principle, can be completely dismantled and rebuilt elsewhere without creating waste. The Tiny Houses, which stand on a mobile base, can also be used elsewhere at a later date.
The construction time of the Tiny Houses and the community house was comparatively short. This was partly because the buildings were temporary solutions for flood victims and therefore no building permit had to be obtained due to a special regulation.
In the acute emergency situation, it was very successful that the municipality (Grafschaft), a welfare association (Caritas) and the private sector (Haribo in the form of the association "Haribo hilft") pooled their resources and competences and thus provided help quickly.
[In German only]
Mobile Häuser in der Gemeinde Grafschaft für die vom Hochwasser betroffenen Menschen
SWR Aktuell: Tiny Houses in Grafschaft aufgebaut
Local business development * Culture * Tourism
Municipality of Grafschaft