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Tiny homes with a big purpose: Tucson nonprofit launches new program to help vulnerable youth

I am you 360 launches small home experience
Posted at 7:01 AM, Jul 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 10:01:00-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — A local nonprofit is launching a new program to help vulnerable and homeless youth in our community.

I am you 360's founder Desiree Cook created the small home experience to give youth a place to go once they turn 18 and age out of the foster care system.

In Pima County, cook said there are 7,000 kids living on the street and 3,000 in the foster care system.

"It’s mandatory that we change the directory of their life and really let them know that there are forces and people that are cheering them on, because they really have not had cheerleaders in their life," Cook said.

Cook said this will not only give these kids a place to call home, but also teach them how to integrate back into society through school and work.

"I feel like a lot of adults don’t understand that when you age out of the system, you don’t have anywhere to go," student in Small Home Experience Marisela Cazares said. "When you grow up in foster care or group homes, just because you turn 18 or you become an adult, it doesn’t mean you have everything together."

Ten homes will be built in the empty lot behind Cook's nonprofit. Each is 400 square feet, costing 120 to 150 thousand.

The home were created by EmV Design Built.

"Coming in and being part of the built up for their facility and their homes it’s supporting the mission growing the youth into a better America," Owner of EmV Design Built Edith Villalobos-Zamora said.

Villalobos-Zamora said they will be made out of an insulated concrete form, essentially put together like Legos. This allows the young adults to literally build their own homes.

"Once I get to live in this place, maybe then I’ll actually feel like what an actual home feels like, because to be honest with you, I don’t know what that feels like," student in Small Home Experience Elizabeth Meadows said.

Moving into these homes are more than just four walls, but the start of something new.

"I’m excited to not just see them live, but thrive and really be sewn back into the fabric of our community," Cook said.

The hope is to break ground on the project by the end of the year.