Tiny house village design proposals for veterans transition center to be unveiled b games car

Bill Kelley, Jennifer Suttie and Thomas Rettenwender at the Hartnell College Alisal campus on Monday show an example of a tiny house under construction that the Veterans Transition Center in Marina will use in a Tiny House Village. (Vern Fisher – Monterey Herald)

But when Monterey Peninsula College’s Green Building Design course participants presents their collection of Zero-net Tiny House Village Designs for the Veterans Transition Center at Fort Ord in Marina, it will launch a much broader dialogue for confronting not only homelessness, but also the affordable housing shortage in Monterey County.

Students, faculty and supporters will address the housing crisis at the MPC Art Gallery from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday when they present the visionary design proposals for a low-cost sustainable housing community for designated vacant land in Marina.

“I’ve been collaborating with the VTC for about fours years now,” said Thomas Rettenwender, principal architect at Ecologic Architects in Carmel. “In parallel, I’ve been developing education programs at UC Santa Cruz and also several local community colleges including MPC, Hartnell College and San Jose City College.”

Between 2013 and 2014, the Pocket House was built as a new, innovative model for sustainable living and involved interns from local high schools, interns and instructors from Hartnell College, Interior Design students from MPC and graduate students from UC Santa Cruz Baskin School of Engineering.

“We built and designed the pocket house over a summer. It’s a portable building that we can move around,” said Rettenwender. The Pocket House is currently at the Hartnell College east campus in Salinas where Rettenwender was talking about the tiny house program.

Labor for the Tiny House Village program is done by the students, homeless vets and Monterey County Jail inmates using donated materials and grant funding to build the structures and are being built in different locations by a mix of the populations it will help.

The land for the pilot Tiny House Village project at the Veterans Transition Center, is part of the agency’s housing for homeless veterans and their families that ties in nicely with the organization’s mission to provide veterans not only with services but with transitional housing and case management programs to help them become employable, productive members of the community.

Located in the Hayes Circle area of the former Army base, the pilot program could see three to four designs that can be integrated into the existing community of housing for veterans who are going through the Veterans Transition Center program.

This Tiny House Village project will give vets the tools they need to help themselves by including them in learning basic construction skills, providing practical application of those skills to build homes for themselves and others in their community, and supply them with bankable knowledge and skill sets for real-world jobs.

“That’s what we love about education and private partners,” said Kurt Schake, executive director of the Veterans Transition Center. “The pilot program can be used as a template or model to be assessed and then move forward with it in the local community.”

The Veterans Transition Center head said Marina needs to be OK with the pilot program, and that verbally the city likes the idea as it presents one viable solution to the affordable housing crisis and chronic homelessness in Monterey County. “But our land operates under planning permits from Marina.”

According to Rettenwender, when trying to find solutions to the current housing crisis, many turn to the tiny house. The smaller size, lower reliance on site infrastructure and the ability to “do-it-yourself” are factors that can contribute to cost savings.

A Tiny House Village at the Veterans Transition Center in Marina would provide more housing for vets near the services they receive with the organization, and the VA-DoD Clinic close by, and could become a reality for the Veterans Transition Center by the end of 2018.