(Operation Tiny Homes) is a great program. They learned a lot and they really enjoyed it.Douglas Hancock, Community-Based Vocational Instruction teacher
RINCON — The Tiny House Project has made a big impact for homeless veterans in Chatham County. It aided select students in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System in a big way, too.
Rincon’s Douglas Hancock, a VFW Post 12149 member and transition specialist at Groves High School, recently supervised several Community-Based Vocational Instruction students as they learned vocational and living skills while participating in Operation Tiny Homes.
“Every day, five days a week, we went out there and were working labor on the The Tiny House Project,” Hancock said.
The $2.5 million Tiny House Project launched by the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless, will eventually result in 72 tiny, affordable houses for homeless veterans. Each fully furnished one is only 16 by 8 feet.
“Originally, in Phase I, they put in 25 buildings,” Hancock said. “There were 23 homes and one is a (medical) clinic and one is a community center. Our students were out there helping on all of those.”
According to Chatham County statistics, one of every 16 homeless people in Savannah is a veteran. There are about 700 homeless people in Savannah overall.
“We got 25 people off the street because two of the veterans were married and there was a joint occupancy,” Hancock said.
Phase II at The Cove at Dundee will include 24 more homes and another clubhouse.
One of Hancock’s students was assigned to work with plumbers. Another assisted electricians.
“And the rest of us worked with the carpenters (from Joe Marchese Construction),” he said. “The students learned carpentry skills, a work ethic and the soft skills.”
Hancock said carpenters from Joe Marchese Construction “were wonderful” in the way they trained the students, who received instruction in framing, roofing and siding. He said Marchese was also supportive.
“They did an excellent job of a two-day job of putting in hurricane clamps,” Hancock said. “We ran did some (work) with electric lines and the waters lines. There wasn’t any HVAC because (a tiny house uses) a window unit.
“We didn’t get any HVAC experience.”
Hancock’s students, including two who were offered jobs that they declined, received donations from Nightingale Services, the VFW, Vietnam Vets, the Veteran’s Council and individuals to allow for the purchase of steel-toed boots and other supplies. Their safety equipment, including hard hats and reflective vests, were donated by Home Depot in Pooler.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced interruption of the students’ participation in Phase II but Hancock is hopeful it will resume soon.
“(Operation Tiny Homes) is a great program,” Hancock said. “They learned a lot and they really enjoyed it.”
To make a donation to the Tiny House Project, call 912-644-7945.