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Vernon organization wants to combat homelessness with tiny home project

Barry McDougall
March 09, 2016 - 6:30 PM

VERNON - A Vernon organization is looking to solve a big problem with a tiny concept.

The First Nations Friendship Centre is gaining momentum for its vision of a 20-unit tiny home housing community for youth between the ages of 19 and 29 at risk of homelessness.

Youth manager Barry McDougall says Vernon, like many communities across the country, is facing a low-income housing crisis. The centre already operates the Kekuli Apartment Complex, a 20-unit facility for youth facing barriers to affordable housing. McDougall says the centre gets about five applications bi-weekly from individuals looking to secure a unit.

“Most are turned away as vacancies are rare,” McDougall says. “A common phrase from individuals asked about their present housing is ‘I am couch surfing'.”

McDougall has received applications from mothers with babies and been forced to turn them away because there just isn’t room at the apartment.

“I’m a dad, so yeah, it’s hard,” he says.

To create more affordable housing in Vernon, McDougall and his colleagues at the friendship centre came up with the idea of building tiny homes, a popular construction trend sweeping North America. McDougall envisions the tiny homes as being not just beneficial for the community, but for the environment as well through the use of green building techniques.

But, before they get to the goal of 20 tiny homes, the plan is to start with just one. The centre has a fundraiser in the works to build a transportable tiny home and raffle it off with the proceeds going towards the housing initiative.

The centre is seeking interest from agencies, companies and individuals to donate the materials, funding and expertise needed to construct the first tiny house.

McDougall says various local agencies including the trades program at Okanagan College, School District 22 and Community Futures have shown preliminary interest in getting involved.

The centre has launched a tiny home design challenge and is asking all interested parties to submit drawings. A full list of design specs can be found below.

The closing date for submissions is April 1 and submissions can be sent to Kekuli@fnfc.ca.

For more information or clarification, call Barry McDougall at 250-306-3275. Prizes will be awarded in three categories — best design aesthetics, best use of materials and space, and best energy efficiencies — with judging to be completed by April 6 and the winner announced April 8.

TINY HOME DESIGN CHALLENGE – DESIGN SPECIFICATIONS

  • Maximum height 13 ft. /4 m. – When loaded for moving
  • Maximum length 28 ft./ 8.5 m. – When loaded for moving
  • Maximum width 8’6”./ 2.6m. – 10ft./ 3.04m – When loaded for moving
  • Includes kitchen, bathroom, beds – designed for a family of two adults and one child maximum
  • Can include a loft area
  • Ability to connect to city services and / or independent well and septic
  • Can be designed for all services off / grid
  • Allows solar panels, 12 v. and 110v. wiring / propane
  • Allows for passive heating and cooling
  • Has a designed wall system that does not have a vapour barrier.
  • May show new high tech materials and innovative storage features
  • May demonstrate unique ways of recycling water,  rain cachment or other unique energy saving features
  • Can either be transportable on trailer or transferred onto a flatbed truck  to ship
  • Natural building materials are important, but not required ie. wood vs. high tech composites
  • Protection from electromagnetic waves emitted from electrical wiring. Protection technology and innovation

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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