New Mexico engineering students have teamed up to provide homeless veterans in their community with sustainable housing. In an unconventional twist, they are constructing a neighborhood of adobes.
Over the summer, New Mexico State University students participating in the Aggies Without Limits (AWL) organization constructed a prototype adobe with the patronage of Fox Hole Homes, a nonprofit real-estate developer, NMSU News Center reports.
The nonprofit has reportedly purchased 160-acres of land in Alamogordo, New Mexico. There, the AWL engineering students will construct 120 adobes to provide housing with an equal amount of homeless veterans.
“Sustainable housing means tiny homes in the 120-to-150-square-foot range and made out of as many recycled materials as possible, and if not recycled materials, the materials that are available locally,” said Kenny Stevens, an AWL faculty adviser.
The AWL organization hopes that the adobe neighborhood provides not only a roof over someone’s head but also a sense of community.
“You can’t address homelessness just by providing more homes,” Stevens continued. “That doesn’t work. You need to create a community.”
Not only will the AWL students construct 120 homes, but several members are also figuring out how to provide utilities.
“They’re going to come up with ideas to improve heating and cooling and water supply and distribution for Fox Hole Homes,” Stevens added.
New Mexico state is slated to approve of the students’ adobe prototype in the spring of 2017. Construction on the full neighborhood will begin shortly after.
Roughly 800 homeless veterans sought housing in New Mexico in 2014. In the first five months of 2015, local residents had already found housing for 400 homeless vets, the Albuquerque Journal reports.
“With a lot of veterans returning from wars in the Middle East, there has been an awareness among Congress and the public that we need to take care of them when they come back,” said Hank Hughes, executive director of the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness.
“Politically, it’s an issue Republicans and Democrats agree on, and it’s a doable goal,” Hughes added.
Connecticut has reportedly been the most successful state in curbing veteran homelessness, with the federal government officially recognizing its ability to end chronic veteran homelessness in 2015, The Associated Press reports.
On Nov. 14, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut met with First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House’s Veterans’ Homelessness Summit. Malloy asserts that his state has found a method of breaking the chain of veteran homelessness within 90 days.