When Teresa Mankin first came to Roseburg she was shocked at the pervasiveness of the city’s housing crisis.
As a U.S. Army veteran who served eight years as a journalist during the first Gulf War, Mankin wanted to help. Veterans are some of the most likely people to become homeless, according to the Oregon Department of Veteran’s Affairs website.
Mankin founded Valiant Seed, a nonprofit that seeks to offer at-risk veterans affordable housing with tiny homes. The nonprofit has plans to build four 400-square-foot homes on Southeast Cobb Street. The first home, complete with a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, will be finished in time for Veteran’s Day, Mankin said.
Operation Tiny Home, a nonprofit that builds tiny homes as affordable housing, is funding the first house. Mankin reached out to the organization after seeing it featured on Tiny House Nation — a TV show about tiny house building — and the nonprofit agreed to provide funding.
Although the houses will be available to all veterans, Mankin hopes the houses will serve as an alternative transitional housing option for female veterans in particular. Female veterans often face different challenges than their male counterparts when they return from active-duty, Mankin said. Being a single-parent or dealing with trauma from sexual violence experienced while in the military can make readjusting to civilian life and maintaining stable housing even more difficult, according to Mankin.
“I don’t think we’re prepared as a nation to take care of what we brought home,” she said. “It’s sad.”
Tiny house communities present an opportunity to teach veterans life skills they may not get in large housing complexes.
“Part of what we want to do here is use permaculture (self-sufficient gardens) to turn this land into something beautiful,” Mankin said. “So they can have raised gardens and grow some of their own food.”
She acknowledges four tiny houses won’t solve Roseburg’s housing crisis, but she hopes the project will become a trend and be replicated in the area.
“It’s small, but we should be able to wrap our arms around four people and get them what they need,” she said.
Mankin, who has been living in Roseburg for a year and a half, was introduced to the area when she became the Oregon state director for SkillsUSA. The organization helps middle school, high school and college students prepare for careers in skilled and technical occupations.
Her experience with organizational management at SkillsUSA has allowed Mankin to make connections with other nonprofits in the area. Valiant Seed has partnered with the United Community Action Network, which will ultimately manage the property, the Homeless Transitions Action Group and the Battered Persons Advocacy.
Although she has not yet secured funding for the three other planned houses, Mankin believes she will be able to after the first house is finished.
The co-host of Tiny House Nation, Zach Giffin, is hosting a tiny house building workshop in Roseburg on Nov. 8-10 to support the Valiant Seed project. Veterans are invited to attend for free.