Using volunteer manpower and donated materials, Kirkland church groups came together this summer to build tiny houses that will be sent to villages in Seattle.
Cal Pygott, a congregation member at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church and former high school shop teacher, said that he was tapped to lead the project at his church because of his construction skills. He also believes in the benefits of providing a more permanent residence for people in need.
“The walls we’re building here are for inclusion, and not to keep anybody out,” he said. “It’s a different border from what someone else might want to build. We’re trying to help the community, not divide it.”
His 8 foot by 12 foot structure is the second tiny house constructed at Holy Spirit. Last year the church’s youth ministry led the project and built the project using a kit from Home Depot. This summer Pygott wanted to get different groups involved, and decided to use raw materials. He also reused some from last year and received some donated items, including paint.
“There was a lot of enthusiasm from the congregation to do another one,” Pygott said, noting that the church also made an effort to contact other groups in the area to gauge their interest in building tiny homes.
Groups from Wooden Cross in Woodinville and Holy Family Parish volunteered to help with construction, and may build their own next year. Alumni from California Lutheran University also stopped by to help, Pygott said.
It was usually a different group each day, and the construction process lasted for about a month, having to be put on hold temporarily due to the poor air quality in mid-August. Pygott estimates that 50-100 people volunteered their time, working from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Saturday.
“There was a lot of teaching and learning. Most of the volunteers knew very little, if anything, about construction,” he said.
But the goal was to get people involved, Pygott said.
“Most people can write a check to charity, but if you’re working at a soup kitchen, or at a shelter, or building something, you have more ownership of what you’re doing,” he said.
Pygott said that though the home is being sent to a tiny house village in Seattle, homelessness is a problem on the Eastside as well, and “the need is everywhere.”
There are many benefits to tiny houses, one being that they provide dignity. The ability for people to stand up straight in their home is a big self-esteem boost, he said, but there are practical benefits as well.
“The nice thing about the tiny house, versus a tent, is that it gives them more security,” Pygott said. “It’s also insulated all the way around, so it’s warmer and more weather-proof.”
Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church also built a tiny house this summer, and hosted a dedication on Aug. 19.
Social Justice Ministry Team Chair Judith Shattuck wrote in an email to the Reporter that the project demonstrated a longstanding commitment from the church to help its less fortunate neighbors, and a “reflection of our values and hope for making a difference.”
“The tiny house, ‘the house that love built,’ will be transported to a tiny house village in Seattle where a formerly homeless individual will be housed and on the way to a more stable and productive life,” she wrote. “The metrics surrounding the transition from street to housed are truly amazing.”