What it's like at the newest (and most colorful) tiny home village for unhoused young people in Oakland

ByMatt Boone KGO logo
Thursday, January 14, 2021
Look inside Bay Area's newest (and most colorful) tiny homes
The homes are being set aside for homeless and at-risk youth in Oakland and Berkeley. Take a look inside.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- After nearly two years of planning, construction and COVID-related delays, a colorful tiny home village in Oakland for unhoused youth is about to open.

The one-acre village is located just south of the Oakland Coliseum in what was formerly an empty lot.

It has been transformed into a vibrant micro-neighborhood filled with murals, brightly colored planters and two community yurts. (Take a look at the video above for a look inside.)

There will be 22 available tiny homes for 18-23 year-olds from Oakland or Berkeley who are homeless or at-risk, such as young people transitioning out of foster care.

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"A fair amount of our applicants are former foster children," said Rolf Bell, director of construction for the project. "It's a rude awakening to be emancipated."

The individual units have custom-made murphy beds that can be turned into desks. They also include a closet and a skylight.

There are no drab colors in sight. Most of the walls are covered in detailed murals created by young artists.

"They're more than just mural canvases. Each one of these brings a certain type of energy, often messages," said Bell.

Hindman says they've started accepting applications and have already received more than 100.

"There's huge need for housing for young people. That's been expressed in many applications coming in a short period of time," said Sally Hindman, the Executive Director of Youth Spirit Artwork, the non-profit group that created the space.

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"This tiny house village has been able to go up in a two-year period. Much quicker than permanent supportive housing," said Hindman. They expect to welcome the first residents by the end of January.

A one-acre village of tiny homes for homeless youth is opening in January 2021 near Oakland's Coliseum.
Matthew Boone / ABC7 News

Referred to as a "youth empowerment village," residents will be required to attend eight hours of job training per week. If they already have a job, they will be expected to pay one-third of their monthly income in rent. With a community kitchen and dozens of raised garden beds for vegetables, Hindman says the village will be somewhat self-governed.

"Our project gives you the opportunity to have ownership in the decision-making and really be in an empowered situation," she said.

In total, Hindman says they raised $1.25 million for the project. $300,000 came from a grant from Oakland's "community cabins" program. Oakland also supplied $150,000 for utilities and gave them a no cost three-year lease of the property.

They are still fundraising to buy one more shower trailer that will add three more shower and toilet stalls.

To learn how to apply or donate to the program, more information is available on the Youth Spirit Artworks website.