Thanks to the recent donation of a brand new tiny home to St. Vincent de Paul in Eureka, one less person is sleeping outside. Last week, the first of at least two planned tiny shelters was installed in the courtyard of SVDP’s Third Street dining facility — home of the nonprofit’s daily free meal — providing housing for a longtime free meal volunteer, Christy, and her dog.
St. Vincent de Paul Board Member and Volunteer Coordinator Bob Santilli told the Outpost on Wednesday that the tiny shelter was built and donated by Dan Faulk and his son, Sequoyah — operators of the Walden Project, which promotes the installation of “micro houses” for unhoused folks in Humboldt County. “They donated this house out of good will,” Santilli said. “[Dan] is very much a kindred spirit.”
The innovative shelter is only 70 square feet in size. The house includes a bed, a sink, a solar panel — generating enough power to charge a phone or tablet — and a sink, which is operated by a small water pump attached to a five-gallon bucket of potable water.
Getting the structure onto the site was a little tricky, Santilli said, and required some “ingenuity and several people” to get it off of the flatbed of a tow truck. Pacific Towing transported the house free of charge and Dick Taylor Chocolates lent the nonprofit a forklift for the move. Luckily, Santilli said, the structure was not damaged at all during the process.
Santilli said that the nonprofit plans to have another tiny shelter installed, but he is not exactly sure how soon that will happen. Though the Faulks were generous enough to completely donate the first shelter, the second time the nonprofit will at least need to cover the cost of materials. The first one cost about $2,500 to build, Santilli said, but the price of lumber has since increased and he suspects the second will cost closer to $4,000 — maybe more. Santillii is currently looking for grant funding to cover the cost, he said. The non-profit would like to install a third shelter as well, but Santilli said that there may not realistically be space in the courtyard.
The project is a partnership between St. Vincent De Paul and the City of
Eureka and the Eureka City Council approved the courtyard as an
emergency shelter site by amending the City’s Shelter Crisis
Declaration. The residents of the tiny homes will receive meals and
support services from SVDP, with support from the city’s Community Services Engagement Team (CSET) and the UPLIFT program. Eureka City Manager Miles Slattery said that this was the same process used to approve Betty Chinn’s Blue Angel Village, and the use of the Crowley Site for a coming Betty Chinn transitional housing project.
Though the SVDP courtyard has limited space, both Slattery and Santilli said that they see this project as a pilot program, and hope that it will serve as a framework for similar housing projects in the future.
Santilli wanted to thank the city, the Faulks, Pacific Towing, Dick Taylor and everyone else who helped with this project, adding that the humble nonprofit has long depended on the donations, contributions and volunteer help of the community.
“Our organization is blessed in many ways,” Santilli told the Outpost. “As small as our budget is — we basically have two paid staff — we’ve been here 40 years and have served 3.5 million meals.”