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Cal Poly Students Building Hope for the Community By Mark A. Diaz

Consistent with Cal Poly’s philosophy “Learn by Doing,” Construction Management students are building shelters for the homeless in San Luis Obispo County. It is part of Hope’s Village of SLO, a project to help those less fortunate by providing housing in the form of small cabins on wheels.
Scott Kelting , an associate professor in Poly’s Construction Management Department, spoke with Becky Jorgensen, founder and president of Hope’s Village, concerning the possibility of students helping to build the cabins. A student did their senior project on the idea and came up with home designs, estimates of cost and material quantities.
Poly incorporated the idea of building the small cabins into their residential construction management curriculum in the fall quarter of 2017. By June of 2018, the students will have constructed two of the 77-square-foot structures. According to Kelting, the students will complete the framing, the exterior envelope and the roof — the Village will finish the interior. When their work is finished Jorgensen plans to introduce the students to two of the homeless people they helped provide a safe living space for.
“The students have really been enjoying it. They are happy to be able to do something that gives back to the community,” said Kelting.
Jorgensen said that the non-profit is close to ending a 5-year search for property to place the cabins. The organization is currently looking at a one-acre plot that holds key elements that would make the village successful; adjacent to a bus route and installed utilities. Jorgensen said that the property is also not in a current neighborhood. She also said that the Village travels the county to raise awareness for the cause.
“We give regular presentations to local schools and Cal Poly State University, talking about homelessness and how tiny living can help,” said Jorgensen.
In conjunction with Hope’s Village, the Showers of Hope program offers the county’s homeless access to portable showers. The Showers received a $20,000 donation from Dignity Health in 2017 and a $200 check from two students from San Luis Obispo’s Laguna Middle School who raised their donation by throwing a bake sale.
“Our Showers of Hope is my big project right now,” said Jorgensen. “We’ve given 503 showers to local homeless people who have no other access to a shower. We have a guy who brings his 10-year-old daughter to our showers because they were kicked out of Prado. “
The portable bathing units are established on a trailer and have two showers, one of which will be ADA compliant. Program Manager Tim Waag said that they added special features to the unit including larger water tanks and extra batteries not only to assist as many people as possible but also to have the option to rent the showers to help fund operational costs.
For more information about Hope’s Village, visit


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