Students Build Moveable Eco-Village For Homeless In NickelsVille
In Nickelsville — a small community for homeless people who wander about place to place temporarily — the living conditions are being improved by a bunch of teenagers who are developing a small, movable eco-village.
Dubbed the Impossible City, the house is part of a project run by Sawhorse Revolution, which is a local nonprofit organization that teaches students basic design and construction skills with materials the community can actually use.
“Basically the living conditions are tarps over tents on platforms and concrete blocks,” says program director Sarah Smith. “They do have a few shacks donated a few years ago by Home Depot, but they’re totally uninsulated, the roofs aren’t finished, and they leak and they’re starting to mold.”
The size of the shacks was enough for a student to take up as a challenge. “There’s a need for a transportable, insulated, tiny house that provides privacy and isn’t going to be a huge burden for them when they move,” Smith says.
The new home comes with the following features:
- A lofted bed with storage place underneath
- High windows for ventilation and privacy
- Rubber floor that is simple to clean
- Jacks on each corner to install on uneven ground
The team is also working to design a solar charging station, a community cookspace, and composting latrines.
“Because it’s so practical and hands-on, there’s a much different relationship to this social problem,” Smith says. “Homelessness is a really difficult thing. Everyone sees homeless people on the street, and it’s hard to know how to approach that: Why are people sleeping outside in the cold? Design allows us to ask those questions and deal with them in a really practical way.”