By: Julieta Hernandez Illustration by: Jarred Schuetze
According to Paulette Kluge, a member of the Advisory Board on Homelessness, being homeless is a spectrum.
“There [are] people that need maybe a month or two of rent to get their feet back under them and they won’t be homeless anymore. There [are] people that potentially have mental illness, drug abuse, or extreme PTSD, and it’s not as easy for them,” Kluge explains.
Either way, the purpose of the Tiny Homes for the Homeless project goes beyond room and board. It creates a permanent or temporary home in a community that residents can make their own. Kluge attributes a lot of the inspiration for this project to the tiny home community in Austin, TX.
Community First! in Austin has completed roughly 175 tiny homes, complete with gardens, dog kennels, art studios, and other amenities. Residents pay rent, volunteer, and maintain responsibilities. The community aims to help homeless people help themselves and each other.
At the beginning of 2018, Tiny Homes for the Homeless promised a 12 structure set-up with plans to expand to 15 homes. In addition to finding funding for bathrooms, showers and kitchens, the organization is meeting all its goals for this colossal project. Every week, the architecture and construction programs at Del Mar College and the Advisory Board of Homelessness get closer to seeing the project through. These groups want to target chronic homelessness as well as homeless veterans who cannot receive benefits without a physical address.
Laura Wright, Chair of the Department of Technology Education and Assistant Professor of Architecture at Del Mar College, is focused on the nuts and bolts of getting the structures completed. The models for the first batch of tiny homes must be perfect before expansion can be considered. As the project moves forward, Wright’s students gain valuable hands-on experience.
“We’re trying to determine what else needs to be done. Then we can determine what materials we need,” she says. “A lot of the materials are being donated by local home building companies, but we have to give them an idea of what and how much.”
The project is fast-paced but productive, requiring support on all ends to bring the community to life by year’s end. Both Kluge and Wright agree that one of the biggest obstacles is finding the perfect location. However, the program has had numerous inquiries about volunteer opportunities, bringing one community together to create another.