Project to House Seniors Thinks Small

To solve the big problem of being able to afford housing in retirement, some are thinking small, with tiny houses made with hemp.

That’s what’s going on in Washington state, where a recent law change in the state has enabled farmers to once again grow hemp and become a sustainable building material in homes that enable seniors to age in place affordably. One senior in the state, Pat Rasmussen, has launched a project to fund tiny homes for seniors using hemp materials.

The idea of living in a small home during retirement to cut back on housing expenses is not a new one, and many states are allowing “granny pods”—small, camper-life homes often on wheels—to be placed on land near family members. The housing movement toward small homes is one that aligns with the overwhelming desire of older Americans to age in place and avoid moving to a senior living community during retirement.


The addition of hemp as a building material in Washington is scaling back the cost of living in a tiny home even further, according to Rasmussen, who penned an article Earth News on the project. Hemp, which is a product of cannabis, can be utilized as a sustainable and energy efficient building material through the use of chopped hemp stalks, known as hemp hurd, according to Rasmussen.

However, like the use of medical cannabis in home care, the use of hemp as a material involves some regulatory challenges. In Washington, hemp can be legally cultivated after the state passed a law in 2016.

To get more Washington seniors into tiny hemp homes, Rasmussen launched a Gofundme campaign alongside Chris van Daalen of the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild.


“We’ll work together with partner organizations and agencies to build a program and develop funding sources so many seniors can take advantage of the new ’Senior Hemp Tiny Homes’ housing solution,” she wrote.

Written by Amy Baxter

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