Laney, West Side Baptist’s Pocket Houses for Homeless Students


Truck driver Martin Kauffman (far left) and electrician Art Ramirez (far right), who both donated their services to deliver Laney College’s tiny home prototype to West Side Missionary Baptist Church, stand in front of the Pocket House Model M with Rev. Ken Chambers (middle right) and Councilmember Abel Guillén (middle left).

Laney College’s latest tiny home prototype will house two homeless students beginning this spring semester.

Laney’s carpentry department has achieved success building tiny homes. They won a contest hosted by Sacramento Municipal Utility District for a tiny home they built in 2016. Councilmember Abel Guillén spearheaded a collaboration between the City of Oakland and their department with an $80,000 grant to Laney carpentry to build a tiny home prototype for mass production.


Laney College carpentry presents the Pocket House at Capitol Hill. Right to left: Digital fabrication instructor Marisha Farnsworth, Laney student Kim Gordon, Congressperson Barbara Lee, Laney students Daniel Ticket, Miguel Vega, and Rick Rothbart.

The latest model of the Laney-made tiny homes is the Pocket House Model M. It was delivered to West Side Missionary Baptist Church by Martin Kauffman, a truck driver who donated his services.

Art Ramirez is an electrician who will also donate his services to get the tiny home’s water and electricity up and running.
Rev. Ken Chambers said the 200-member Interfaith Council of Alameda County supports this project, and has a goal to house 1,000 people this year.

But the first step is to work with Laney coordinators to interview and select students in need of the home each semester. The parking lot the tiny home sits in is already a safe car park, and Chambers is taking steps toward being able to pay a stipend to the selected students for overseeing the lot. The church will also offer access to health and employment services.
Chambers hopes to create a system that can be replicated throughout Oakland and have a deep impact on the unsheltered communities it holds.


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