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Tiny Home Village Aims To Combat Youth Homelessness In East Bay

BERKELEY (KPIX 5) -- The nation's first prototype of a tiny house village for young people has begun construction in the East Bay.

How tiny? The main floor is 70 square feet, the sleeping loft is 35 square feet and the storage closet is another 24 square feet.

Jackson Hardamon is the board president of Youth Spirit Artworks, which is launching a "100 homes for 100 youths" campaign.

The Oakland Unified School District says that at any given time, there are 900 kids couch surfing or in an unstable housing situation in Oakland. Hardamon said young adults who are homeless often have a hard time finding help.

"When it comes to any types of youth shelters, most of them don't necessarily stay open all day or don't actually provide enough security for the youth that are actually coming to stay, and those places we want to provide is their own home, for their own sense of security," said Hardamon.

One of the main qualifications to get one of the temporary tiny homes is you have to help build it.

Team leader Jason Wilson said by helping in the building process, the young people will learn new skills while also developing a sense of pride and responsibility.

"We all know children, when you just give them something, they take it for granted. But if they work for something, they will value it more," said Wilson.

Each tiny home is 13.5 feet tall and just about 8.5 feet wide, roughly the same proportions as an RV, but shorter. The homes will stay on the wheeled trailer.

Tiny Village digital rendering (Photo: Youth Spirit Artworks)
Tiny Village digital rendering (Photo: Youth Spirit Artworks)

The cost of materials is about $12,000 each and it takes a team of 15 to 20 volunteers five to six days to build each one.

Phase one of the campaign is to raise several hundred thousand more dollars in donations and build the first village of 25 tiny homes on an undisclosed, half-acre lot in West Oakland. The village has a strong support from the Alameda County Interfaith Council.

Rolf Bell is a general contractor, but he also has extensive experience volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

"What do you tell a neighbor who says, 'Oh no there's no way that's going on my street?' We complain about the nimbyism of President Yrump and it's easy to point fingers at them. Sometimes, we have to take a look at our own hearts and recognize that we have some of that same blood in us," said Bell.

"And we really need a cleansing, we really need to think differently about how we choose to be a neighbor to everyone in our community, and not just those who look like us."

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