Today we had a look around the River Haven site. This is a homeless encampment in Ventura, California that has been in existence for four years. For four years it has been a tent community, the only self-governing homeless camp in Ventura County. With winter on the way, it’s getting an overhaul — with pre-fab shelters called U-Domes.
World Shelters and the Turning Point Foundation have teamed to create housing for 25 individuals. In the place of the tents will be six 200 square foot U-Domes and 13 120-square foot U-Domes on wooden platforms. The structures have locking doors, windows and vents. The U-Domes are pre-fab structures, and tomorrow morning they will be part of an amazing experiment. Several hundred volunteers will arrive to set them up. The catch? They will be learning “on the job.” Bruce LeBel, who heads up World Shelters, wants to see if its possible for volunteers to create a community in a day.
“I expect that if we have 100 people in six hours we will get through it. Can U-Domes be erected by unskilled people? We’ll see! That’s our experiment.” — Bruce LeBel
Early this morning, Navy Sea-bees were prepping the pads for the U-Domes. It was quiet – just the sound of conversation, power drills and teamwork. Commander Williamson told us that there were two Sea-bee battalions at work – all volunteering their time. Some had just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Still, they pitched in. They expected to stay “until the job was done.”