Tiny homes On Wheels: Homeless Activist Orlando Barahona

plans for tiny home village
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Orlando Barahona is a graphic and web designer who has been homeless on and off from 2014-2016.  He suffered from depression and alcohol abuse.  Due to this problem, he has gone from various levels of the San-Diego public housings and mental help systems.  He has personally experienced what it is like to submit to the system for help.  His past experiences led him to formulate his own ideas for transitional housing and recovery programs which he had developed into a detailed plan for a colony of tiny homes to shelter families, children, and other homeless people.  His plan which he had discussed with developers was gaining the attention of City Lawmakers and was being looked at as a possible way to help reduce the homeless population in San-Diego.

Orlando Barahona uses his talents as a graphic designer, happiness manager, and humanitarian outreach volunteer as a blogger HISD.LIFE.  He is also a Peer Support Specialist and he is content when people are saved from suffering.  You can get in touch with him at ahomelessvoice@gmail.com  and on LinkedIn.

Orlando Barahona Tiny House Colony Plan.

Orlando Barahona’s Tiny House Colony Plan is based on a project that was done by students in Canada.  He named it “Las Castias”.  Here are its goals

“Las Castias: Objective 1.  to provide shelter in the time between becoming village of tiny houseshomeless and being assigned to a program.  This will alleviate the number of people living on the streets waiting to be admitted into the very short-term housing crisis programs”.

HUD The Department of Housing and Urban Development uses vulnerability index service prioritization decision assistance tool to decide what the needs of all homeless people in the San Diego area.  Their scale is based on needs of services.  0 of being of no immediate need and 10+ being those with the most problems.  Under this verification, only those with 10+ with severe mental and physical issues are qualified for housing first programs.

Most people will only qualify for Rapid Re-Housing which is Rent Assistance, which is mostly for families.  This service is for a limited amount of time.  Once the examination is done it can take days, weeks or, even months to get into the assigned programs.  Families who are in danger of ending up on the street may not receive their Rapid Re-Housing money until it is too late.  Las Castias would prevent that from happening.

“Objective 2. Serve as a centralized location for homeless resources.  The on-sight location will include medical professionals, therapists caseworkers that could determine every homeless person’s needs”.

According to a 2015 poll, 1884 homeless people in San Diego stated that within that past year they had used an emergency room.  According to a 2000-2003 study 529 homeless people in San Diego they had cost up to $17.7 million in medical services covered by the taxpayers.  Homeless people would have their emergency needs covered by Las Castias.

“Objective 3. Provide transitional and low-income housing”.

In 2015, San Diego witnessed a 30.2% decline in housing inventory.  To rent a 1 Bedroom apartment in San Diego you can expect to pay $1781.00 a  month. Families need to save up money to rent their next apartment.  Las Castias will offer low rent housing, just for this purpose.

Community Support for The Tiny House Colony.

Public officials supported his idea.  They would meet with him to discuss the project.  The Housing Commission Suggested a location.  It would be close to the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Orlando thought the location was ideal.  There law enforcement nearby and the hospital is across the way.

The city officials told him how he could get funding for the project.  He could enter his idea into a government-funded emergency housing proposal competition.  The idea being it could receive half a million in federal funds.  This funding would be available through the Mckinny-Vento Homeless Assistance act from 1987. It is a U.S. federal law that provides federal money for support programs.  It was Enacted by Ronald Reagan. It was the first piece of legislation written to deal with homelessness.

The money of this act is distributed by the United States Housing and Urban Development to $1.9 billion in total to housing solutions and outreach prevention programs.  California gets around $22 million and San Diego gets $900 000-1-2million depending on the source you look at.

“State allocation of funding:

1. Non-Competitive Rapid Rehousing

2. Regional Competition: submitted to housing projects and outreach programs.

Then it is review by the Local Continuum Of Care Agency.  A maximum of $500 000 will be granted to the project”.

Orlando Barafona went in search of a developer to make the Los Costias project a reality when he heard about the competition.  He pitched his ideas to non-profit developers.  He thought he found one who liked the project.  He informed the developer about the information he had already gathered and the property that had been found for the project.

The developer told Barafona they would do the necessary research for the application and submit it into a formal proposition for the competition.  This was in the earlier summer of 2016.  The developer promised everything would be done by the September due date.

The Developer For Unknown Reasons Pulled Out Of The Project.

On September 18, 2016, Barafona contacted the local builder.  They had already set up a few buildings, permanent units for low-income housing and he knew he could approach them to research his project with them.  Bid with them if that was possible.  That would save him quite a bit of time and money for licenses.  Unfortunately, the first person he contacted that represented the company was very unprofessional, let time past, there was no research done for the property he found in Oceanside.  In other words, he was brushed off.

Barafona felts the project has been stalled.  He communicated with his contact on the day of the deadline.  The contact insisted he knew nothing about the project.

Barafona still wanted to develop the project: the tiny homes.  He needed to partner with a contractor first.  He has been looking for help. If you are interested in helping go to HISD.LIFE for information.   For more details about Orlando Barafona watch this film.  https://vimeo.com/186370132

I got most of my information from this film.

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