Program that teaches trade skills while helping the homeless embarks on its second year
A celebration was held Tuesday at a transitional housing site in Eugene. Roughly 30 people showed at Everyone Village to highlight the work of high schoolers from 16 Lane County schools, as well as the 16 shelters delivered or near completion from last year.
Partners with the Constructing a Brighter Future program said they’re embarking on their second year, to teach more teens trade skills while helping the homeless.
Constructing a Brighter Future trains career and technical instructors in building one-room shelters, which they then teach their students. This gives kids a way into the construction sector which desperately needs younger workers, as older ones age out of the workforce.
Jamie Leclair and Beckah Short are both students at McKenzie High, who are part of the program.
“It makes you feel really…I guess, special that you’re able to help other people,” said Leclair. “Personally I’m thinking about going into some sort of construction, probably houses. Especially knowing how bad homelessness is, and how high prices are.”
“The morals that it gives people, and knowing that you can help someone, and benefit someone else based off of your own work,” added Short. She said she’s open to exploring construction as a career path.
Among those who appreciate their work is Samuel Jones, 69, who lives at Everyone Village with other residents who are transitioning into more stable housing.
“When they come off the street, it gives them a place to feel more at home, and like they’re actually a part of something, and they’re wanted,” said Jones.
Jesse Quinn is director of community engagement for Lane Workforce Partnership, one of the program partners.
“This is a win-win for the community, so we’re really excited to see student enterprise addressing community issues such as homelessness,” Quinn told KLCC. “And for our industry partners who have noticed a real deficit in recruits, they’re seeing new talent starting to emerge and express interest in joining the filed.”
Organizers say this second year of Constructing a Brighter Future will include middle schools, more students, and higher output than last year. The number of Lane County Schools is expected to be 19, compared to 16 last year. And they also plan to have 15 shelters completed and delivered by the end of the 2023-24 academic year.
Gabe Piechowicz, the lead for Everyone Village, said this all helps address the homelessness crisis in accordance with Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek’s plans to increase affordable housing across Oregon.
“So it’s really great to see in this next year,” began Piechowicz, “we’re going to have middle schools, high schools, programs, workforce boards, etc. all involved now together on the front of the whole state’s response to the crisis. So big doin’s a comin’.”
Each unit costs $5,700-$7,000 to build, so financial donations from the community is a large factor in continuing Constructing a Brighter Future.
Another transitional housing site, SquareOne Village, is another partner in the program. Lane Community College, Lane ESD, One Hope, Pivot Architecture, and Richardson Media are the others.