Nonprofit's tiny homes find a place in 'safe sleep sites'

A local non-profit is helping house the homeless using tiny homes.

Posted: Oct 13, 2021 11:40 AM

EUGENE, Ore. – A local non-profit is helping house the homeless using tiny homes.

Carry It Forward is a homeless advocacy group in Eugene that works directly on the streets with the unhoused. Gabriel Casteel is the organization’s lead designer. He’s using his construction experience to help jumpstart a program to build small shelters that can fit in a parking spot.

“There's a lot of people just living in tents in the wintertime. They're terrible and it's hard to live that way so we wanted to make a well insulated, sturdy-designed tiny little shelter that you can be warm and out of the rain,” Casteel said.

Casteel worked with Alicia Ginsberg at Carry It Forward to craft design plans for the tiny home, which he also helps build. The shelters are insulated wooden structures that are wired to receive power and small enough to fit inside a parking space. The City of Eugene opened its first ‘safe sleep site’ earlier this month, but not everyone has an RV or vehicle to camp in. Tiny homes can help fill the gap.

“I think if you've spent two months living in your car in the rain, and you get an opportunity like this, you're going to love it and you're going to jump at that opportunity,” Casteel said.

Just last week, a woman was among the first to move into one of the tiny homes at Eugene’s first ‘safe sleep site’ at West Second Avenue and Garfield Street.

So far, the group has only built a handful of tiny homes, but hope to construct many more and inspire others to do the same. The materials are all available off-the-shelf at most home improvement stores.

With a small crew, Casteel said each home takes several weeks to build. The goal is to produce each shelter for $5,000 including labor. Currently, the tiny homes are funded through various donations. If you’d like to learn more or donate, check out Carry It Forward.

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