OAKLAND, Ca. — The facts are startling. On any given night, approximately 41,000 young adults will be homeless. Many are all alone on the streets. Without help, it can often lead to a life of instability. Now, a non-profit is aiming to reverse that course with a colorful new neighborhood just for them.
Ernie Sandoval is just settling in to his new place. While just eight by ten feet, about the size of a college dorm room, each with a lofted bed, a closet, desk, chair, electricity, and heat, Ernie says his tiny home feels like a mansion to him.
Sandoval states, “I was on the streets before this for about five years. It can mess up someone’s mentality, you know, having to eat out of a garbage can or having to sleep behind a dumpster. And this place brought me to a point where I can be able to handle myself while I’m trying to go to school.”
Ernie now calls the tiny house empowerment village in Oakland, California home. This first of its kind program, places 22 homeless young adults into their very own house.
The executive director, Sally Hindman, explains that “this is really a safe place for them, in some cases, the safest place they’ve been in a long time.”
Hindman, from the non-profit, Youth Spirit Artworks shepherded the effort. She says that “over 2,500 volunteers worked with the youth in fulfilling their dream.”
Sean McCreary was homeless as a teen and decided to pay it forward. “I think just overall it’s all been a community effort to see this thing through. I really feel inspired.” McCreary said of the homes.
Caring for the homeless in a completely new way. Hindman said, “the model is creating wraparound services for homeless youth that include job training, community meetings, shared meals, recreational activities and doing chores for the village.”
“I think folks are experiencing a lot of community.” McCreary stated.
Sandoval explained, “I never had anything like that to call my own like that.”
Each home costs 12,500 dollars to build, with the money coming from grants and private donations. The goal is after a two-year stay the residents of the Empowerment Village will be able to live independently. Although everyone must have a clear path before that happens. The model is gaining so much interest that a new village is now in the planning stages at the CAL State east bay campus. The college is known for its large homeless student population.