Tiny Homes Will Bring More Room and Hope to 5 Rock Ranch
Tiny homes built by residents of Blanchet Farm are finally rolling down the road to fulfill their purpose of providing shelter to people in need.
One by one, the five micro homes were loaded onto a flatbed and driven 15 miles away to 5 Rock Ranch where people desperate to build new lives will finally be able to rest their heads in peace. A small crowd, including children from the ranch’s life-changing program, watched as Zeb Udell of Zeb Udell House and Building Movers jacked up the first house to fit his truck underneath.
“The houses will create a new space for people exiting prison or going through a hard time,” Scott Bradley, co-founder of 5 Rock Ranch says. “We’ll build a separate building, a common area with a kitchen for them all to use.”
Bradley along with his wife Christy runs a ministry dedicated to helping people escape from the shackles of drugs, crime, and abuse. Women and their children, along with single men and women with nowhere to go, come to live at the ranch in a program similar to that offered by Blanchet Farm; long-term stable and safe housing program that gives people an opportunity to gain sobriety, heal, and plan for their future.
Bradley brought five of the boys living at the ranch to watch and learn, they cheerfully moved large pieces of heavy wood from under the house to a truck.
“These boys have all experienced a lot of abuse. No fathers,” says Bradley. “They learn a lot of responsibility through work.”
Work to Heal
Work is a key component to both Blanchet Farm and Blanchet House’s life-saving residential programs. The tiny home project was born out of the need to find meaningful work that will teach employable skills while building sobriety and responsibility. The project called “Homeless Building Homes for the Homeless” is funded by a grant from Wells Fargo and the US Conference of Mayors. A key piece to carrying out the building of the homes was hands-on support by the NW Carpenters Union. Union carpenters provided a unique opportunity to the residents of Blanchet Farm to learn carpentry and join the union.
“They do it all — framing, sheathing, siding, metal roofs, and painting,” said Steve Simonson of SES Engineering, lead engineer on the project.
Simonson along with union carpenters taught an initial group of men how to build a tiny house, then those men trained others. In all, six tiny homes were built. One will remain at the farm to provide a little extra living space there. The project landed three men full-time jobs in construction giving them money to find housing off the farm. The goal of the program was to provide needed housing while creating new training for unemployed homeless individuals, provide valuable skill development to help them land permanent jobs, and give the ability to leave poverty and find housing. Many of the residents of Blanchet Farm have experienced periods of homelessness because of their drug or alcohol addictions. One resident who greatly benefited from the program is Danny Welch.
“I’m someone who suffers from drug addiction. It led to homelessness and I caused a lot of wreckage,” Welch shares. “The program has helped me grow a lot through the skills I’ve learned. I’ve learned to build a house. It’s actually a dream of mine to one day build my own house.I believe that I will have the skills to get a good job so I can provide for me and my son.”
Watch Danny’s video.
Tiny House Design
Portland’s SERA Architects designed the homes and describes them in detail on their website.
“The design of the tiny homes balanced the desire for a comfortable space with the dimensional constraints required to transport the pods to their final project site. Each home is plumbed and electrified and features a kitchenette, a desk/dining space, bunk beds that can alternatively serve as storage, cabinets, a toilet, and a sink. On the exterior, composite siding, metal roof panels, and vinyl windows provide durable and cost-effective long-term value. Covered porches help manage the connection between private and public space.”
The homes can comfortably sleep two adults on single beds. The homes will be fully plumbed and connected to the sewer at 5 Rock Ranch. A shared larger community building will give access to laundry, recreation, and a larger group living room for meetings and relaxation. 5 Rock Ranch has a large, beautiful dining hall where residents eat all of their meals.
Carpentry Skills for Long Term Employment
The similarities between Blanchet Farm and 5 Rock Ranch made for an easy partnership that includes sharing resources like extra donated food, tools, equipment, and the farm’s weekly Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. There are very few long-term sober housing programs away from the temptations of the city for someone with little money. The required work whether it be caring for animals, cooking, cleaning, gardening, or carpentry is instrumental in building self-esteem and soft job skills.
Ross Sears, farm manager, says building the homes was invaluable to the men in also trying to gain sobriety at the farm, “Work gets you out of your head. Completing a project gives you self-worth,” he says.
Many of the residents haven’t been employed for years because of their addictions. Peer support, structure, and responsibility are life-changing for residents. A job is a key to staying sober. Men who leave the farm’s structure and fall into unstructured routines are unlikely to maintain their sobriety without a job to be responsible for.
Now that the tiny home project is complete the men at the farm will resume learning find woodworking in the woodshop, tending to the pigs, chickens, and goats, and caring for the impressive vegetable and flower gardens.