The primary provider of shelter as a BASE service has to be the Community. The basic definition of Community is about where you live and that means where you call home, where you return to for shelter, the place where you make lasting contributions to the social fabric because it your place in the world.
Even more than any other BASE service, shelter has a physical component that is very location specific and where ever it is, it is always inside a community.
In the LIFE system, taxes are collected at the highest layer possible and distributed at the lowest layer possible. The distribution of tax revenues to Communities to provide BASE shelter represents one of the most significant investments in the social fabric of a society.

Shelter needs to be available in various forms to meet different needs, these are reviewed below.


Emergency Shelter

Communities need to be able to provide a limited amount of immediately available basic facilities to cope with short term needs and emergencies.
Clean, shared hostel-like facilities should be able to shelter a small number of people who have either been displaced by distaster, such a fire, or find themselves without alternative acommodations.
The ability to provide expanded temporary shelter to cope with larger disasters affecting large numbers of the Community should be part of the Community emergency plan.

Transitional Shelter

To address the needs to those transitioning into public housing, Communities should have an allocation of shelter facilities that may not meet the full SSE Quality standards because there are a high percentage of shared facilties, but which can accommodate individuals and families in relatively private units as compared to Emergency Shelter.
These may be specifically transitional shelter facilities or could be simply unused portions of the public housing stock.

Public Housing

Long term permanent housing for those choosing public housing needs to meet SSE standards and is provided by the Community based on their plan to provide such. the Community plan needs to be sufficient to cover existing needs and any migration plans they have.


Communities should be able to provide to provide the needy with clothing as necessary to maintain the health of the individual. A clothing recyling facility in the Community Center can satisfy this need in most cases. In other situations the Community may need to organize local residents to make basic clothing items for their neighbours.

Standard Shelter Equivalence (SSE)

Standard Shelter Equivalence (SSE) is a metric that allows Communities to manage their public housing stock and infrastructure appropriately.

There are two components to the SSE:

  • Cost
    • The cost of building a new housing unit
    • The cost of maintenance for a new housing unit over 50 years (projection/estimate)
    • The cost of running the unit over 20 years
    • Energy (Heating/cooling/ventilating )
    • Management & administration
    • Replacement of non-lifetime elements, such as lighting & plumbing
  • Quality
    • Space minimums
    • Facilities access standards
    • Hygiene
    • Rest
    • Food prep
    • Utility

The SSE Cost needs to be expressed in per person terms. This can be derived by evaluating the costs for new housing builds and dividing this back over the proposed population of the new builds to arrive at a SSE cost per person. See examples below.
In calculating SSE Costs it is important that materials and energy already be loaded with their external costs.

SSE Quality specifications can be used, albeit more subjectively, to determine if housing stock meets the appropriate standards, or the extent of modifications required to existing buildings to meet the standards.

Existing Housing Stock

Existing public housing can be evaluated against the SSE.
If the equivalent cost of existing units is greater than the SSE, they should be replaced or just demolished.
If the existing stock can be upgraded to meet SSE Quality standards and still remain within SSE Cost, it should be.

Accessing BASE Shelter services

There are two circumstances that need to be accommodated for access to Shelter services.
Short term or urgent need access
Community members should have 7×24 access to Emergency Shelter in the event of small scale disaster. Emergency shelter does not have to meet SSE standards.
With suitable reciprocal arrangements, citizens from other places should also have same day access as needed to Emergency Shelters.

Migrants to a Community may have to use Transitional Shelter, which does not meet SSE standards, while awaiting the availability of public housing but this should not exceed 6 months.

Long term move to Shelter public housing

Community members who wish to transition from private housing to public housing may have options, including:
sell their private housing and move into public housing
sell their private housing to the Community, so long as the SSE Cost is lower and it meets SSE Quality standards, and continue to live in it with a 20 year occupancy right

Energy as a component of Shelter services

The energy required for lighting and to heat or cool a living space, along with the energy required for food preparation and household appliances is evidently a component of Shelter services. An analysis of average energy requirements is part of the SSE calculation, as is calculation of the specific needs to each particular housing unit so that it can be evaluated against the SSE and these will yield values for energy ‘allotments’ per housing unit however the matter of consumption demand management responsibility remains.
At the crudest level energy provided can be rationed to the unit over as short a time intervals as is practical, with the ability of the occupants to supplement as they wish with their own resources.
Ideally every unit will be equiped with a ‘smart meter’ and attached to a ‘smart grid’ that will allow:

  • instant energy accounting and feedback re SSE ration
  • ability to select consumption patterns based on cost and origin of the energy
  • facility to feed energy generated locally back into the grid for credit

The management of this function is particularly important for restraining the creation of ‘fuel poverty’ with the introduction of carbon taxes as well as empowering the public shelter sector to actively participate in the rapid migration away from carbon fuels.

SSE Examples

SSE in Industrial Society
Quality Private Space 10 sq m
Utilities Electricity & Heating, 24×7
Facilities Bathroom, shared by 4 max.
Food prep Kitchen, shared by 6 max.
Cost Units per building 4
Average people/unit 2
Build Cost of building 200,000
Unit build cost 50,000
Maintenance/building/year 5,000
20 year maintenance/unit 25,000
Utility cost per building/year 10,000
Utility cost per unit/year 2,500
20 year Utility/unit 50,000
Standard Shelter Equivalent (SSE) 62,500 
SSE in Subsistence Society
Quality Private Space 1 sq m
Utilities Electricity, 4×7
Facilities Outhouse, shared by 20 max.
Food prep Kitchen, shared by 10 max.
Cost Units per building 2
Average people/unit 4
Build Cost of building 250
Unit build cost 125
Maintenance/building/year 30
20 year maintenance/unit 300
Utility cost per building/year 240
Utility cost per unit/year 120
20 year Utility/unit 2,400
Standard Shelter Equivalent (SSE) 706

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