Tiny homes have enjoyed a recent resurgence, complete with dedicated DIY blogs and cable TV reality shows. But can the philosophy behind something often dismissed as kitschy or twee solve a serious problem like youth homelessness?

That was a question posed at this week's Tiny Home Summit at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Leading up to the summit, the American Institute of Architects Chicago held a design competition for concept homes smaller than 350 square feet that could help homeless youth rebuild their lives.

Three Chicago architects—Marty Sandberg, Terry Howell, and Lon Stousland—won first place for their design, “A House to Live in,” and this week they built a prototype on the UIC campus. The cost, amazingly, rang in just under $25,000.