The sound of a circular saw cut through the air as a group of builders raised the roof for a duplex being built on a 20-foot trailer Thursday in the shadows of the Overland Park Convention Center on College Boulevard.
The house is tiny, but once completed, its builders have big plans for it — to serve as transitional housing in Pittsburg, Kan., for homeless people.
Members of YouthBuild KCK are building the tiny house as part of the “Bring Kansas Home” Kansas Housing Conference, which is being held at the convention center through Friday. The house is expected to be mostly finished by the end of the conference.
“One thing that is exciting about building a tiny house is that you can see the project from beginning to end in a fairly quick time,” said Spark Bookhart, executive director of YouthBuild KCK, which provides an opportunity for at-risk youth to complete their high school education while earning a construction certification. They also learn job skills through community service.
“We won’t be out here a week, and they will have gotten the whole gamut of what it takes to build a house in that short period of time,” he said.
The group working on the tiny house has been in the YouthBuild KCK program for about two months. Bookhart said they are just learning how to use hand and power tools, but it’s amazing what they are able to do when given an opportunity.
“A lot of our trainees come from environments where they have had challenges, troubles, things that have occurred in their lives and they are basically resetting and restarting their lives,” Bookhart said. “I think that working on projects like this, they see how you can go from nothing to something in a short period of time. I hope metaphorically we can use that to mirror their own lives.”
Mario Picazo, 17, of Kansas City, Kan., wasn’t really into school. He saw YouthBuild KCK as a way to get his education and job skills. He’d like to be a carpenter.
“It makes me feel good that I’m actually helping other people get housing — a roof over their head,” Picazo said. “It’s the best feeling anybody really could have, knowing that you are doing something good.”
YouthBuild KCK partnered with Kim Wilson Housing Inc. of Kansas City, Kan., to build the tiny house, which is being being funded by the Kansas Housing Resources Corp. and private donors.
“With this tiny house duplex, it will lift two people off the ground and into temporary shelter where they can be for 90 days until they find permanent housing,” said Jana Loflin, director of eviction prevention and housing stabilization services with Kim Wilson Housing Inc.
Once completed, the tiny duplex will have two separate 64-square-foot homes, each with a platform bed and storage underneath. There will be a refrigerator and microwave, and the residents will share a bathroom. It will be donated to the Wesley House program in Pittsburg, Kan., for use as temporary emergency housing.
Tierra Chapman, 22, of Kansas City, is attending the YouthBuild KCK program to earn her GED and gain some construction skills. She said she’s looking forward to when they get the chance to paint the walls.
“I like painting; I like getting dirty,” she said with a laugh. “You know, I can’t wait until my clothes get messed up with the paint. I’ll look like a real construction worker then.”