One Tiny House – Solving Three Problems
Our country is experiencing one of the largest labor shortages it has ever faced. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), there were 200,000+ unfilled construction jobs in the U.S. over several months in 2016. This was an 81% increase from the previous two years. The Department of Labor also reported the ratio of construction job openings to hiring was at its highest level since 2007. With the labor shortage, the average construction cost of building a single family home has increased 13.7% since 2007. Many new home builders are leaving the starter home market building larger, more expensive homes to cover their margin. Finding an affordable starter home for a first-time home buyer is a struggle.
We are also facing a crisis with our youth in America. Of the emancipated foster youth, one out of every five are homeless. By the age of 24, only half of these young adults will be employed. Statistically, less than 3% will earn a college degree, while 71% of the young women will become pregnant before their 21st birthday. And while the dropout rate for youth in low- and middle-income families has declined since 1990, the National Center for Education Statistics’ report shows youth from low-income families are two to four times more likely to drop out from school, not earning a high school diploma or GED.
And let’s not forget the financial burden homelessness has on the American Taxpayer. Depending on who you ask, the costs of emergency room visits, jail time, and hospital stays including mental health care and drug and alcohol treatment, are $35,000 – $150,000 per year per chronically homeless individual. In 2012, the head of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) stated that the cost to taxpayers to provide for a homeless individual on the street was $40,000. By this calculation, the cost to the City of Sacramento, not including our suburban areas, is over seventy million dollars each year. Many studies have shown that by simply providing housing, these costs decrease by 70%.
At Kavanah, we designed a program to offer solutions! By creating an opportunity for youth to learn a trade, we have put them on a career pathway in an industry that so desperately needs skilled workers. This happens while the youth literally build a solution for our homeless population. We’ve partnered with three area high schools, as well as SAVA and SRCC YouthBuild, providing them with plans and drawings for the Kavanah Tiny House. These youth are learning how to frame, roof, hang windows and doors, drywall tape and texture, install insulation, install electrical/solar, hang cabinets, and install finish work, all to current industry standards. We have introduced these youth to one of the largest new home builders in our area, and their subcontractors. The subcontractors have developed a paid internship program for these youth, putting them on a career pathway. And by partnering with the Construction and Energy Technology Department at Sierra College, and Cosumnes River College, we are proud to announce four of the youth we have worked with over the last six months are now enrolled in college construction courses!
It is our goal that each Kavanah Tiny House is placed at a church, where the occupant can receive the needed services and care from the church members. Inside the Tiny House, you will find white shaker cabinets, beautiful granite or marble countertops, wood laminate flooring, calming neutral colors, LED lighting, a USB and wall outlet to charge a cell phone and tablet, furnishings, and full bedding including a heated mattress pad. It is important to us that the Tiny House not only offers the youth an opportunity to learn the value of excellence in their work, but also gives the occupant dignity, being surrounded by warmth and beauty. Our first Tiny House, built by the students of Luther Burbank High School, was placed at a church in North Sacramento. The members of this church absolutely love Shawn, whose life has changed since receiving the keys to his Kavanah Tiny House (here). Since moving in, this Navy Veteran has found full time work, paid an old fine enabling him to obtain a drivers license, purchased an automobile, and proudly proclaims he, “exchanged an EBT card for a Debit Card”, by opening up a bank account! Shawn has a dream of owning a construction business, and we will continue to support his path to success.
Many of the materials to build these Kavanah Tiny Houses have been donated by very generous corporations, the national new home builder, several of their subcontractors, as well as Home Depot. The cost to build, transport and supply a Kavanah Tiny House with furnishings is less than $10,000. There are eight additional high schools who have expressed an urgent interest in partnering with us, and we are making new connections daily. It is our goal to involve more members of our community who would like to partner, collaborate, and participate.
If you attend or know a church or organization who would like to participate in hosting a Kavanah Tiny House, or donate materials, please contact Jim Quaschnick, Jr at (916)869-5599 or firstname.lastname@example.org.