SAN DIEGO — A tiny home is helping to accomplish big things in San Diego County.  

What You Need To Know

  • Urban Corps of San Diego County is a nonprofit that provides paid job training and a chance to earn a high school diploma for 18 to 26-year-olds

  • Corps members built their first tiny home this year

  • The students started with a trailer on wheels and built it from the ground up, gaining invaluable experience for their future

  • The entire project cost about $75,000 to build a 170-square-foot-home

When Angel Lopez works with his hands, he knows he is building a better future.

“I want to learn as much as possible,” he said. “If any family member needs help, I can just go over and help them with anything.”

Lopez is a corps member at Urban Corps of San Diego County, a nonprofit who provides paid job training and a chance to earn a high school diploma for 18-26-year-olds.

Lopez says he was floating through life before he joined Urban Corps, and now, he’s excited about getting his diploma and some new skills.

“It’s really nice and really nice that you can do something that you never done before,” he said. “It’s pretty cool. I like it a lot.”

The group built a tiny home for Ellen Stone.

“They’re so great,” Stone said. “They help me make all decisions because it’s hard to make decisions.”

When Stone got married, her friends and family gave her money to buy a tiny home. Stone and her husband no longer needed that money because they unexpectedly bought a house, so she partnered with Urban Corps to give them construction experience, paying for the entire project — all 170 square-feet of it.

“A lot of times when people haven’t been in a tiny home before and they come in, they go, ‘This doesn’t feel that small’ because it’s been thought through, all the design and the planning up front,” she said.  

Stone put the tiny home in their new backyard and hopes to use it to help an Urban Corps student in need by giving them a nice affordable housing option.

“We decided we wanted to put that little tiny home nest egg into something that helps someone else since somebody helped us,” she said.    

The students started with a trailer on wheels and built it from the ground up. Kyle Kennedy, who is the CEO of Urban Corps, said the partnership to build this tiny home is invaluable for their future.

“Our goal is really to expose them to what’s out there,” Kennedy said. “I mean, most people come in and they just don’t know what they want to do for the future. So you start with doing the framing to doing all the finish work — the painting. It just gives our corps members experience on every part of the construction trades.”

Lopez said it made him realize how much he has to look forward to when he graduates.

“If I’m interested in construction or anything and doing this type of job, I think it will help me in that, or if I want to do something for myself, I can also do it myself and see how far I can get with it,” he said.  

The entire project cost about $75,000 to build. Stone says it was one of the first three legally permitted tiny homes in San Diego County.