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Innovative LCC program marks first year of shelters and sheds for those in need

 Forklift with shelter.
Brian Bull
A forklift operator maneuvers a shelter built by Constructing a Brighter Future from a lot towards its new location at Everyone Village.

A program at Lane Community College that teaches high schoolers trade skills by building shelters for the homeless has wrapped up its first year.

Lyle Lang is with Lane Workforce Partnership, a partner in the “Constructing a Brighter Future” program. He told KLCC that 200 students from 11 school districts built – or nearly finished - 16 shelters and 23 sheds.

“We got some feedback from the kids, and almost all of them unanimously said, ‘I'm making I'm making the community a better place,’ he said. "It wasn't about themselves. It was about how they were able to help their community. So that was really cool to hear.”

At Everyone Village—a transitional housing site in West Eugene—the program is yielding tangible benefits.

Kevin Martin lives in Everyone Village, and spent months before living in his car before getting his new shelter from the program. During that time, he tried staying in the parking lots of several box stores before city officials told him to move. He said there were many times when he’d sit and listen to people on drugs or alcohol act violently around his vehicle.

Now standing safely in his new home, Martin had a message for “Constructing a Brighter Future” participants:

“Thank you. Thank you so much,” he said. “Makes me feel extremely loved. And happier.”

Martin already has a rug in place, and said once he gets his kitchen table set up, he’ll grill burgers for a celebratory dinner party.

With each shelter costing $7,000 to build, organizers hope to get more funding for next year.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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