For Women, by Women: A Sisterhood of Carpenters Builds Tiny Houses for the Homeless

By on January 4, 2019

From Yes Magazine:  For the volunteer tradeswomen who came together over several cold, wet weekends this spring to build a tiny-house village for homeless women in north Seattle, the ultimate reward wasn’t necessarily their finished handiwork.

Rather, it was the confidence and camaraderie the project inspired for many of the crew who, for the first time, worked on a construction site where they were not the only women.

Alice Lockridge, who spent a 30-year career training women to do physically demanding work, created the Women4Women initiative that brought them all together.

“These women go to work every day and are told they are not as good, they are taking some man’s job, and ‘Why are they there?’ Subtle and straight to their faces, every day for their entire careers,” Lockridge says.

With Women4Women, she says, “we made a place where they could come to work and share their skills and learn new skills in an environment that was free from all that.”

Whittier Heights Village is a community of 15 colorful tiny houses, each 100 square feet. In July, its new residents began moving in, many from the streets or from shelters around Seattle. The village also has a common building with a kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry.

Located on city-owned land, it is one of nine tiny-house villages in Seattle that serve as emergency shelters for the city’s homeless population. It is operated by the Low Income Housing Institute, which develops and operates housing for low-income and homeless people in Washington state. Each house costs about $2,500 to build, and the labor is mostly provided by volunteers.

Dozens of women—and also some men—from across the state answered Lockridge’s initial call for volunteers. Not all were carpenters; there also were gardeners, plumbers and electricians, and artists. They included tradespeople with years of experience and folks who hadn’t picked up a hammer in years.

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