PAA, Hood View Church Provide Tiny Home for Homeless Woman

June 28, 2017 | Liesl Vistaunet

Stories of cold-related deaths scattered the headlines during one of the worst winters in Oregon’s history. The weather, coupled with a nationally recognized housing crisis, caused overcrowded warming shelters and serious problems for the homeless population.

Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) and Hood View Adventist Church in Boring, Ore., joined the voices of concerned Portlanders and responded with action. Collaborating on a mission-focused learning outreach, they built a tiny house for Dignity Village, a homeless community sanctioned by the city of Portland.

Led by Brian Simmons, Hood View Church associate pastor, and Jason Bibb, PAA vice principal of finance, a group of nine PAA students spent their entire spring break building a tiny home for a woman named Mary.

As an official nonprofit organization, Dignity Village’s mission is to provide a place where people can have their basic needs met in a stable, sanitary environment free from violence, theft, disruption of peace, and drugs and alcohol. Homes in the village are small, sturdy shed-like buildings. They are simple but can be lifesaving.

The project was intimidating but exciting. “We were given a pile of lumber and some blueprints, and they let us at it,” says PAA senior Isabelle Koh. With the help of experienced adults, students learned to read the blueprints as well as to frame, insulate and wall in the 120-square-foot structure.

They made many discoveries along the way. “In construction, everything is based off of 16-inch measurements,” explains Matthew Hall, a freshman. “Oh, and you can move a house legally and without permits if it’s under a certain size.”

While construction knowledge was imperative to the project, it was meeting Mary and hearing her story that added value to their work. “I didn’t just learn and acquire new skills, but I got to be a part of giving someone a second chance,” says freshman Jace Charbonneau. “I came to see that many homeless people are not on the streets by choice. The reasons are much more complicated than we realize.”

Charbonneau’s words affirm PAA’s goals to provide mission-focused learning. “We do this because it gives PAA students a purposeful approach to education,” says Bibb. “By coupling knowledge with compassion students find meaningful solutions to big problems. It’s helping them to more deeply understand what it means to be Christ-centered and character-driven.”

The full story and additional photos are on PAA's website.