Students build tiny houses for homeless

Franklin High School senior Tai Jordan talks about the tiny homes project.

SEATTLE – As he looked at the tiny home coming together on the back lawn of Franklin High School, Tai Jordan swelled with pride. He saw more than the 9-by-10 single room wood structure or the windows, nails and plastic going onto it. He saw how people will use it in the future.

"You work towards it and you see it come alive in the community and know that multiple people are going to get to use it – not just one person or one family," the 17-year-old Franklin senior said.

Tai is one of the students and volunteers with a Seattle non-profit who are building the tiny home specifically for one of the city's homeless camps.

Those students who helped designed it interviewed residents at Nickelsville to understand what those facing homelessness go through.

"We're not ever going to claim this is a solution to homelessness, that we're fixing anything or that everybody in the world should do this," said Sarah Smith, Program Director for Sawhorse Revolution. "I think - for this particular group of people – both the students and the homeless community, it's a really meaningful opportunity."

Sawhorse Revolution has already completed more than a dozen community projects and has raised funds for six more initiatives, including green projects and more tiny houses. There's already another tiny home this community built that stands inside Nickelsville.

"Living in the south end for such a long time and commuting back and forth between lower income and kind of middle class - a lot of things aren't built for sustainability," Tai Jordan said. "[This home is] built to last for however many people are going to use it."

The home is designed for a couple but could serve a family if needed. Sawhorse Revolution expects it to be in place in June. The students and volunteers have already named it, affectionately, for its purpose.

"It is called The Nest: because nests are supposed to be warm and homey and feely," Tai said. "You know that although it may be a temporary situation – it doesn't have to feel that way. That's exactly why I want to do it – it's to know that no matter where you're at, you can always have a home, whether it's temporary or whether it's long term."

Smith said this is the first time Sawhorse Revolution, which engages high schoolers in building projects for community needs, is actually building on school property. Students came from art and shop classes.

"I think in that way it's a really interesting model to address homelessness," Smith said. "It's not like we're fixing it and suddenly everyone has a bed, but addressing the aspects of dignity and understanding."

Tai Jordan said, as a student, building something beyond cutting board and boxes in a class has taken on a deeper meaning.

"The ability to give back in a way that you don't have to have your name on a plaque or have to have given a million dollars," he said. "It could just be your time, hammer and some nails and be able to get something done and something worth sharing."


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