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Hey Folks! It’s probably been a while since you’ve heard from the Cal THIMBY group, but we are excited to update you all on our progress of the THIMBY 2 Project.

After the Success of our first THIMBY tiny house project, we decided to apply all we learned to help those in need by building tiny houses for the homeless.  Our current goal is to work with the city of Richmond, and the non-profit Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP) , to create a program that continues to build sustainable, high quality, low-cost tiny houses to be used as transitional-housing solutions. We’re hitting the ground running with our first Project, “Constance’s Bus” this semester, as we convert a bus into a sustainable tiny house for a family of three currently in desperate need of housing.

While working with GRIP to find candidates for our first project, program director Kathleen Sullivan introduced us to some of her favorite residents of their transitional shelter; Constance, and her two kids, Miracle, and David.  Constance and her family are simply inspiring. Even though they have been homeless, in and out of shelters and cars for the past two and a half years, every time you see them they are making everyone around them smile with their infectious laughter and gracious demeanor.  After a back injury prevented Constance from maintaining her job as a busdriver, she was unable to afford the rising Bay Area housing prices, and her family has been dealing with the hardships of homelessness ever since. Constance’s family only has 6 months left in their stay at a transitional shelter, and are in desperate need for housing as the kids continue their time in school.  Fortunately, Constance owns a bus from her days as a busdriver, and dreams of transforming it into a beautiful tiny house for her family so she never has to worry about eviction again.  Constance has been adamant about making her dream a reality, working tirelessly with GRIP until she connected with the THIMBY team. The second we met her, we felt her determination and galvanizing energy, and knew we had to do whatever we could to help her achieve her goal.

So this is what we are going to do:

THIMBY is in charge of all the design, planning, marketing, and coordination of the project.  We are creating a media campaign leading up to a Thanksgiving day feast hosted at GRIP, where we will be launching a crowdfunding campaign for Constance.

 Constance-Inspired Design
Constance-Inspired Design

Meanwhile we are having volunteer work days every two weeks to prepare the bus for building, and get it into presentable shape for the Thanksgiving event.

The build begins in December, on a site allocated by UC Berkeley. Professional Tiny House Builder William Burdock will be leading the building process using tools powered by his own solar powered mobile tiny house.  With Billy’s incredible 2.5 Kilowatt Solar setup, and battery powered tool collection, we will be building Constance’s Bus with nearly 100% solar power. That’s right, Thimby 2.0 is using sustainable energy from sustainable tiny houses to build more sustainable tiny houses. Say that 3 times fast.

 Billy’s multi-purpose tinyhouse. This solar powered rig doubles as a mobile working shop too.
Billy’s multi-purpose tinyhouse. This solar powered rig doubles as a mobile working shop too.

While piloting this first project, With the help of GRIP, Burdock will be training homeless volunteer staff, who will in turn help build and then become the recipients of our following tiny house projects. We plan to create a circular system of community based training and housing, where people in the community get to own their houses through sweat equity, and learn valuable skills along the way.

Our plan is to finish Constance’s Bus by the end of January 2019, but Constance’s bus is just the beginning.  For our following projects, we are partnering with the city of Richmond’s carpentry training program, Richmond Build.  Richmond Build trains Richmond residents to become union carpenters in a 10 week training program, and they will be building the structures of our tiny houses as part of their program. After the structures are built, Billy and our student-run teams will be finishing off the plumbing, electrical, and furnishing.  Since Richmond Build can create the structures efficiently with their training program, our plan is to build 2 to 3 more tiny houses in 2019, eventually building up to 5 tiny houses per year in 2020, while simultaneously housing and training many members of the homeless community.

We have so much momentum but we need your help to kick off this project! On Sunday, October 14th, THIMBY will take a team of volunteers to clean out Constance’s bus to begin preparations for the renovation. If we get enough volunteers, we can get this done in a day, which allows us to begin building as soon as possible. If you’d like to participate in our volunteer day, please fill out the form below. We would love for you to be a part of our cause, help an incredible family in need, and help us build a program that keeps giving back.

Fill out the form below to volunteer!

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