Will the so-called "tiny house" trend come to New Jersey? One state lawmaker says it is an idea whose time has come.

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These structures are a minimalist's dream: 500 square feet or less. They are obviously much cheaper to heat and air condition and furnish. They can be constructed on a much smaller lot, adding to the cost savings.

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, says he'll sponsor legislation to seek federal or private funding to build tiny houses in New Jersey.

"They are very popular in Europe, sections of New York and Seattle," he said.

Lesniak says people are finding out that they do not need the amount of square footage built for regular homes, and the cost of housing is a very important part of a household budget, especially in a state like New Jersey with its high cost of living.

Lesniak says on a practical level, "we are trying to provide something that is in demand that you need for folks who just cannot afford the luxury of having a regular-sized unit, and do not need it as well."

He says his bill would seek some assistance from the U.S. Housing and Mortgage Finance Administration.

Lesniak hopes the Legislature will pass his measure and put it on Gov. Chris Christie's desk in the fall.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5