Tiny Homeless Shelters

A student at Bates Technical College works on a shelter in preparation of the 2017 CTE Showcase of Skills on March 27 in Olympia. Adna High School will also be participating in the competiton.

This month, students from three area high schools are busy building portable homeless shelters as part of a statewide competition that demonstrates the value of career and technical education.

Adna, Centralia and Tenino high schools are three of about 20 teams selected to compete in the first CTE Showcase of Skills Homeless Shelter Project through the state’s Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, according to a press release from the board. 

The students are currently working on the shelters in their CTE classes. The nearly completed shelters will then be shipped to Olympia, where the finishing touches will be added. The competition focused on real world, hands-on learning culminates in a construction contest held on March 27 in Olympia focused on the creation of needed homeless housing. 

Each team is comprised of five students who were provided with a $2,500 stipend to pay for supplies.

The one-day competition “brings together students from both the high school and college level to demonstrate their technical skills as they build portable, energy-efficient homeless shelters,” according to the release. 

The finished shelters will later be transported to Seattle, where they will provide transitional homeless housing.

The shelters will measure 8 by 12 feet. Each will include a door and at least one window. Solar panels will later be installed on one of the shelters as a demonstration project. 

“When students tackle hands-on, relevant projects, they learn better and more deeply,” Eleni Papadakis, workforce board executive director, said in the release. “That’s at the heart of CTE and why we wanted to showcase this in front of both policymakers and the public.”

The demonstration projects will be showcased within walking distance of the Legislature. State legislators are expected to stop by to encourage the students as they place the finishing touches on their shelters.

“This is truly a real world opportunity for CTE students from across the state to show what they can do, while making a real difference in the lives of homeless people,” Papadakis said. 

The March 27 event features a line of proposed speakers that include Gov. Jay Inslee and his wife, Trudi, along with the state’s newly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal.

The Low Income Housing Institute of Seattle will also be at the event. The organization will bring a homeless person to talk about the challenges those with no housing face, according to the release.

The winners will be announced on the afternoon of the competition and will be recognized for their accomplishments. 

The event is expected to generate significant attention, according to the release.

“Already, it’s drawn together a powerful partnership of agencies and nonprofits,” according to the release.

The full list of partners can be found online at www.wtb.wa.gov/CTEHomelessHouseProject.asp.


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