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Hope’s Village: Campus Visit from Small Houses for Homeless Project

Hope's Village visits Cal PolySocial Problems (SOC 111) is a course that explores the multitude of problems facing our society, including topics such as racism, classism, sexism and homophobia. Many students have never encountered these issues or have not explored them in depth, so SOC 111 can be difficult and thought provoking. 

Dr. Liz Johnston taught the course this spring, which was structured so that the first half of the quarter explored social issues and problems in detail, while the second half of the quarter focused on local organizations that are making a difference. 

Following Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy, students developed some of the class participatory exercises. A highlight was on May 12, when class was held outside on Dexter Lawn, and the local group Hope’s Village brought a “small house” trailer to campus.

The founder of Hope’s Village, Becky Jorgeson, spoke to the students about homelessness in our community and explained that her group hopes to establish a village for people who are homeless, using this type of small trailer. The village will be made up of multiple trailer/houses surrounding a central bathhouse/kitchen, similar to a typical RV campground. Students also talked to a member of Hope’s Village’s staff, who had been homeless himself. 

Hope’s Village is connected to the national “small house” movement. This movement focuses on small but beautifully designed spaces. The small house movement is concerned with building smaller, greener homes in multiple contexts, not just to provide housing for low income people, but also to decrease consumerism through a “needs-not-wants” approach to life, as well as to lessen the impact of large houses on the environment.   

Hope’s Village is seeking sociology students for internships or senior projects in three areas: writing grants to obtain local and national funding, organizing local fundraisers, and searching for local donors of land and resources to actualize the project.

This is an interdisciplinary project at Cal Poly. Construction management and business students are also involved with Hope’s Village. Students from construction management also held class on the green on the same day and have offered to build a second trailer for Hope’s Village during the fall quarter.

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