DU Good Day volunteers build three mini homes for Des Moines’ homeless.
BY PHONG LY
In the past week, Bulldogs may have noticed the construction of small houses right across the street from Cole Hall. They’re a part of a project called “Tiny House.” The project was established by Joppa, a nonprofit organization that helps homeless people survive and rebuild their lives. Drake University is in charge of building three houses out of 50 in the spirit of the national DU Good Day as an opportunity for Drake to give back to the Des Moines community.
According to the Drake website, DU Good Day is a national day where Drake alumni everywhere join together and work on a community service project wherever they are living. Each year more than 10 different cities have various service activities hosted by Drake alumni.
Normally, this is a one-day event, but things are a little different this year in Des Moines. Andy Verlengia, the director of Alumni Relations at Drake, said the question was how they can make it bigger this year.
“Since we have students, faculty and staff here, we thought rather than just the one day (with) alumni, let’s involve everybody and make it a week-long event,” Verlengia said.
Within the last week, from Sept. 10 to Sept. 16, more than 200 volunteers from the Drake community have pitched in to build these three tiny houses for homeless people all across Des Moines. These houses are going to be temporarily located on campus, acting as show homes.
“We are still working it out, but until the land is finalized, which would probably happen in the next three to nine months, they will be tentatively placed on campus,” Verlengia said. “We want to show to students, prospective students, guests on tour what Drake could do.”
According to Verlengia, these three houses are going to be moved into a village with 47 other tiny houses to create a transitional housing area for people who are trying to get back on their feet. A house like that is designed for one person, measures eight feet by 12 feet, has a footprint of approximately 100 square feet and will have most essential accommodations except water. Water will be in the center of the village, and that’s where the restroom and shower facility will be as well.
“The plan is that the land is going to be within a mile of a bus stop or convenience store so the folks can get easy access to transportation and be able to get some groceries if they need,” Verlengia said.
Verlengia also shared that the sponsor, Joppa, is hoping to get 10 houses done by the end of this year. He indicated that the people at Joppa do not want to get ahead of themselves since they are still looking for a suitable location for the village.
Students athletes were a big part of the project during this year’s DU Good project. The women’s basketball team, women’s and men’s soccer teams and the football team all helped build these houses. Olivia Bruce, a member of the women’s soccer team, was spotted at the site. Bruce was injured earlier from playing soccer but still decided to come and put together cabinets for the houses.
“When we drove by a few days ago, we saw the little houses and each of the sport teams were all getting involved with it so we just wanted to get involved too,” Bruce said. “We’d like to help out with the community.”
Ashley Panzi, spokesperson for Joppa, showed her gratitude towards the Drake community. She said Drake has been “very supportive” from the alumni team to students to the facilities staff.
The houses were finally completed on Saturday, Sept. 16 and will be moved onto Drake’s campus soon.