Redmond High School students are getting a lesson in compassion, as well as construction. They’re assembling shelters for homeless people.
It’s part of an innovative public-private partnership involving the State of Oregon, local schools and the construction industry.
Students in Redmond High School’s construction class began assembling an 80-square-foot shelter that will house a homeless individual in Redmond’s Oasis Village later this year.
“My dad and I worked on building my tree house about five years ago. It was a lot of trial and error and I am having remember how to do this again,” said Chloee Haavisto, a junior at Redmond High School.
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Guided by their instructor and representatives from Parr Lumber and Hayden Homes, the students are building an 8-foot by 10-foot structure with pre-measured and pre-cut lumber.
“We asked the students how long they thought it would take to assemble one of these. One of them said ‘a month.’ We’ve been here about 45 minutes today and we’re about three-quarters of the way through building all four walls and the floor system,” said Levi Means, Parr Lumber regional sales manager.
Students will build at least two shelters this year.
Program sponsors are not shy about hoping to ignite student interest in the construction trades.
“We as an industry need to do a better job of communicating the benefits of owning your own company,” said Deborah Flagan, Hayden Homes vice president. “You get flexible hours. Yes, you work hard but there’s a really good living. You can do that anywhere in the state. That’s what we are communicating with these students.”
Oregon is facing a shortage of 16,000 construction workers, which is exacerbating the housing crisis.
That means there are internships, apprenticeships and jobs available now, and for years to come.
“We are going to tip walls up on these here. It would be easier to leave them flat but that takes a lot of the opportunity for learning and excitement out of the project. We want to make sure they see what they are building,” said Alan Wheeler, Redmond High School construction class instructor.
For the moment, Chloee Haavisto is happy to help address the homeless crisis.
“I’ve seen a lot of people out wandering around. I know how they feel. It’s really cold out there. Be nice to have a home,” she said.