The Minnesota Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation on May 2 authorizing the use and zoning of “tiny homes” as a housing option for the elderly, disabled, and those nearing the end of life.

Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, was a strong advocate of the measure and praised the bipartisan bill as an innovative approach.

“Not only does this provide an opportunity for families to have a hands-on role in the care of a parent, spouse, or loved one, but it also allows for a dramatic reduction in health care costs,” said Westrom.

Westrom said it’s important for the state to develop innovative ways to prepare for more baby boomers who are set to retire.

“The state spends a significant part of our budget to help pay for the care of senior citizens, so anything we can do that provides for more cost effective independent living options is a good thing,” he said.

The “tiny homes,” also referred to as “granny pods,” are homes that are limited to 300 square feet and reside on the existing property of a family member.

The legislation allows for these temporary homes, which are often forbidden by local zoning ordinances, to remain for up to a year.

However, the resident of the home must be under health care.

Additionally, the bill allows for local municipalities to opt out of the requirements if they don’t want to allow the tiny homes.