Peek over the fence of one narrow building on Alcatraz Street in
Oakland and you’ll see a handful of people buzzing around half a
dozen tiny, multicolored houses. They are homeless youth and
volunteers, building what organizers say is the East Bay’s first
tiny home village for homeless young people.
“I get to watch young people who are in a very tough spot do
better,” said Mary Stackowitz, 27, who experienced homelessness
as a youth. “It’s magical.”
The project was organized by Youth Spirit Artworks, an
interfaith job-training nonprofit focused on homeless and
low-income youth. The group’s founder, Sally Hindman, is quick to
remind anyone that every detail of Tiny House Village, which should
be ready for move in by the end of August, was thought of by the
young people themselves. They’ve imagined, designed, and are now
building 24 tiny houses which they hope will soon be theirs.
In 2019, more than 700 Alameda County residents between the ages
of 18 and 24 weren’t able to find a place to sleep, according to
a UC Berkeley study. The county only has 36 shelter beds designated
specifically for homeless youth, said Hindman.
COVID-19 has been especially tough on youth, according to
Colette Auerswald, a pediatrician and associate professor of
Community Health Sciences at the University of California,
Berkeley. There is no data on how many 18 to 24 year-olds have
become homeless since March, when Bay Area shelter-in-place orders
took effect, but social workers and nonprofit organizations say the
pandemic is pushing more young people onto the streets. Scarce
couch-surfing gigs, reduced shelter space, and crowded care
facilities are forcing young people into homelessness. Many
low-income youth were also quick to lose their jobs. Hindman said
Youth Spirit Artworks has seen demand for help double since the
“It’s bizarre to imagine why we’ve overlooked the needs of
young adults,” said Hindman. And she doesn’t mean just housing.
The Tiny House Village project will provide transition homes, but
it’s also been providing dozens of homeless and underserved youth
Stackowitz, who is now an independent artist, experienced
homelessness in the Bay Area for five years and was there, in 2016,
when the project was first brought to the table. It wasn’t an
easy process, she said.
“I don’t think this project should’ve taken four years,”
said Stackowitz. “We got a lot of no’s for two and a half
years.” In April, Oakland agreed to house the village, which will
border Hegenberger Road.
Tired of waiting, homeless advocates build unsanctioned East Bay
village of tiny homes
As one East Bay church builds tiny homes for the homeless, others
For homeless residents in San Jose, this 19-year-old is a true
The $1.2 million dollar project, managed by the Housing Consortium
of the East Bay and funded by nonprofits, congregations and the
cities of Berkeley and Oakland, will house 22 homeless youth, one
manager, and two resident assistants. Hindman said she knows this
won’t solve youth homelessness, but said the village model is
cheap and easily replicable.
“There’s a giant American crisis in affordable housing,”
said Hindman. “Tiny houses are a part of the solution.”
Source: FS – All – Real Estate News 1
Homeless youth build East Bay tiny house village