SAN DIEGO — As the cost of housing soars in Southern California, one organization is helping to make a tiny solution to the big problem.

What You Need To Know

  • Ellen Stone is working with Urban Corps to build tiny homes

  • Stone said tiny homes give homeowners a cheaper solution to building an ADU

  • They will build tiny houses for homeowners, as long as they house an Urban Corps student

  • They hope to complete four this year, and 10 next year

A small step into a tiny house gives Abdul Mobin Safi immense hope.

“It’s a very small place but doing big things,” Safi said.

Safi recently graduated from Urban Corps of San Diego County, a nonprofit that provides paid job training and a chance to earn a high school diploma. Safi and his family were evacuated from Afghanistan when the United States military left the country.

“I didn’t speak English when I started Urban Corps and I learned English there and I got different classes, different trainings. I learned so much over there,” he said.

Ellen Stone worked with Urban Corps to build all 170 square feet of it for around $75,000. It now sits in her backyard, nestled among the trees. A self-confessed “tiny house fanatic,” she is now working with Urban Corps to build more tiny houses for homeowners for half that price, as long as they also house an Urban Corps student like Safi. She also runs her tiny home consulting company, Tiny Home Central.

“I found out about tiny homes and I thought ‘Oh my gosh. People could afford these,’” Stone said.

Stone said Safi will stay here for nine months and will pay her $600 a month for rent. At the end of lease, she’ll return $400 of each month’s rent to him, as a kind of savings account and deposit for his next apartment.

Stone hopes they can complete four other tiny homes this year, with a goal of completing 10 next year. She believes this is a great solution for affordable housing in Southern California, while also giving homeowners incentives to help.

“What’s amazing is that you can do all of this as a homeowner for a third, maybe even a quarter of the price of putting in an ADU,” she said. “We really just hope to inspire and excite people by what’s possible.”

Safi is already looking at his possibilities. He is working to start his own photography business. His low rent has allowed him to build up professional grade equipment. He said he’s looking forward to making an impact with his life.

“They say you should give to get. I’m trying to find something that can help people and help myself too,” Safi said.

After their nine months are up, Urban Corps works with the student to help them find longer-term housing. Stone said this year they’ve had more than 40 applications from homeowners interested in building a tiny house and housing a student.