Media Contacts:

Shane Wright Abigail Kirk Program Director Project Manager 925-788-2392 925-640-0653

 THIMBY 2.0:

U.C. Berkeley students launches campaign to build tiny house for Homeless Family in Richmond, CA.


January, 2019 - Berkeley, CA - A UC Berkeley’s student organization ‘Tiny House In My Backyard’(THIMBY), is launching a crowdfunding campaign to convert a bus into a home for a local homeless family. They are partnering with a non-profit homeless transitional shelter, Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP), to get the project off the ground. THIMBY’s new project aims to build tiny houses by the homeless, for the homeless.  The project will employ local skilled carpenters from the homeless community to provide housing relief to people in need.

The first project will support Constance Johnson and her two children Miracle and David, a loving homeless family that were residents at GRIP’s shelter.  Constance owns a transit bus that THIMBY will be transforming into a tiny house for her family to permanently escape homelessness. GRIP will acting as the project’s fiscal agent and will be helping place Constance’s bus on a safe property.  

 Constance, Miracle, and David’s story

Constance is the loving mother of two children, Miracle and David. She was born and raised in Richmond, and is an adamant advocate for the homeless community.

Constance’s family's lives took a turn when a spinal injury took Constance out of her work as a tradeswoman.  As a result, Constance struggled to find work that could provide enough to afford the ever-increasing Bay Area Rent prices. Now, Constance and her family have been in and out of shelters and cars for the last two and a half years. In that time, Constance has acquired a used transit bus, and has been tirelessly working to find help to convert it into a beautiful home for her family.

 Constance’s Tiny Home Fundraiser

Over the 30 day fundraiser, THIMBY aims to raise $27,775 for all costs to pilot the program. Funds raised will cover all material and labor costs for Constance’s Build. All money spent on labor will employ local homeless community members. THIMBY’s team of undergraduates and graduates will design, market, and manage the project, while GRIP will help with the placement of the home.

THIMBY will work with Tentmakers non-profit on construction management, and will pay professional tiny house builder and local homeless community member, William Burdick, to complete the build on a site allocated by U.C. Berkeley. Following fundraising, Constance’s tiny home is projected to be fully completed by Spring 2019.

Tiny Homes in a Time of Housing Crisis

While the Bay Area stands today as one of the most affluent regions in the country, it also has some of the greatest income inequality, and least access to affordable housing. According to SPUR’s Issue 560, “the Bay Area has one of the largest and least sheltered homeless populations” in the United States. In times of crisis, the most vulnerable in our communities are often left without solutions, immediate or long-term. THIMBY believes the tiny-home movement has a lot of promise to support homeless and transitional communities immediately. “They are cheap, and most importantly, quickly implemented.” says Shane Wright, program director of THIMBY. “While high density affordable housing complexes can take years and years to plan and build, Tiny houses can give homeless shelter, security, as soon as possible.”

Future Goals

While first experimenting locally, THIMBY’s long term vision is to develop a replicable model that partners universities, non-profits, and city governments to build cost-effective sustainable housing for their local transitional communities. We pan to use any left over funds from our first project to help support these potential new programs.


Tiny House in My Backyard (THIMBY) is an interdisciplinary team of UC Berkeley graduate and undergraduate students developing tiny houses and innovative models for sustainable and affordable housing. Founded in 2014, THIMBY has designed and built award-winning off-grid tiny homes, notably placing second in Sacramento MUD’s 2016 competition. Currently, THIMBY is focusing on community partnerships and developing models with tiny homes to address long term housing issues.

 About GRIP

GRIP is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic coalition of congregations from varied faiths working together as a diverse and inclusive coalition dedicated to helping those of our community in need to transition to self-sufficiency. Over the years, GRIP, in keeping with its mission has evolved from a small community food pantry to a multiservice agency, which serves 15,000 homeless, hungry, and low-income consumers annually.

Images and Video

Full resolution versions of images can be downloaded here and freely used with attribution to U.C. Berkeley THIMBY

Crowdfunding video is also available for use by clicking here.

For more information or to make a donation:

 Crowdfund campaign page:
Find out more about THIMBY at:
SF Chronicle article about the project:
For corporate sponsorships, please contact:
For information about  GRIP, visit:

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