Partnership between Looking Glass School and SquareOne Villages builds new Eugene tiny home

Looking Glass Riverfront School and Career Center unveiled a new tiny home at SquareOne’s Opportunity Village this week at the new Roosevelt Boulevard location for the Opportunity and Rosa Villages.

The unveiling celebrated the new partnership between the school’s skilled trades program and the nonprofit organization which resulted in the construction of a 96 square foot tiny home that will be used at Opportunity Village, a transitional housing complex in west Eugene.

The partnership came from a desire to connect the ambitions of skilled trades program students with the needs of affordable housing organizations such as SquareOne.

Amanda Dellinger, community relations director for SquareOne Villages, said the coalescence of the two entities helped students gain necessary building skills while saving SquareOne on the costs of labor for constructing new sleeping spaces.

Students in the Looking Glass Riverfront School Skilled Trades Program spent their summer constructing a shelter for SquareOne Villages’ Opportunity Village.Students in the Looking Glass Riverfront School Skilled Trades Program spent their summer constructing a shelter for SquareOne Villages’ Opportunity Village.

Students in the Looking Glass Riverfront School Skilled Trades Program spent their summer constructing a shelter for SquareOne Villages’ Opportunity Village.

Her early conversations with Tyler Mack, the school’s director of marketing and development, laid the groundwork for the partnership. Dellinger related to the need for the skilled trades program to provide students with hands-on projects as a former student of an alternative high school and a builder herself.

“While they were working on getting funding and establishing the program, we needed to move Opportunity Village. The homes — we call them sleeping cabins at Opportunity Village — were 10 years old and they needed to be upgraded,” Dellinger said.

“We thought that in the middle of the move would be a great time to make those kinds of upgrades so our carpentry build team started to build these new, little bit bigger, more energy-efficient and longer lasting sleeping pods,” she said.

While SquareOne carpenters built more efficient sleeping cabins for the new Opportunity Village location, skilled trade program students at Looking Glass worked to construct a new tiny home, following designs made available to them through SquareOne.

We purchased all the building materials for the unit but essentially didn’t have to pay for the labor to build it, which is about $7,000. Each of those sleeping pods is about $15,000 to build, but if you take out the labor, then they’re closer to like $7,000-$8,000,” Dellinger said.

The students were able to complete the cabin within four months.

Looking Glass School Program Director Cheryl Zwillinger said the skilled trades program supports students with the uncommon opportunity to develop hands-on, practical skills in technical education.

“This program is really unique,” Zwillinger said. “Students enrolled in an alternative high school often lack access to career-technical education opportunities which allow them to gain technical expertise and transferable work skills providing a pathway to higher-paying, in-demand jobs. So, we are very proud to be able to provide this hands-on opportunity.”

Looking Glass Riverfront students Keian Ridgeway, left, and Vyren Johnson were among a group of students in the school’s skilled trades program which constructed a new tiny home for Square One Villages’ Opportunity Village in Eugene.Looking Glass Riverfront students Keian Ridgeway, left, and Vyren Johnson were among a group of students in the school’s skilled trades program which constructed a new tiny home for Square One Villages’ Opportunity Village in Eugene.

Looking Glass Riverfront students Keian Ridgeway, left, and Vyren Johnson were among a group of students in the school’s skilled trades program which constructed a new tiny home for Square One Villages’ Opportunity Village in Eugene.

Vyren Johnson, a student in the skilled trades program, spoke about the impact their participation has had beyond learning new skills.

“I have lived in alternative housing so being able to contribute to that as like knowing how it feels to be looking for a home just is absolutely amazing and it makes me very happy,” Johnson said. “I’m very happy that I was able to help somebody out.”

Along with its partnership with SquareOne, the skilled trades program is working to build tiny houses for other programs that support houseless populations such as Carry It Forward and Community Supported Shelters.

“As far as doing this again, there are 40 units in this location and about 22 of them are already upgraded to the new units which we call sleeping pods,” Dellinger said. “And so we still have quite a few more to build and develop and we’re really looking forward to working with Looking Glass to be able to do that, as well.”

Hannarose McGuinness is The Register-Guard’s growth and development reporter. Contact her at 541-844-9859 or hmcguinness@registerguard.com

This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Looking Glass School, SquareOne partnership unveils tiny home


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