Behind the Story: How tiny houses can change SLO

A press release caught our eye, “Cal Poly Construction Management Students Donate Tiny Home Structures to Hope’s Village.” This sounded like a story we wanted to dig into.

Construction management students that built the tiny homes to donate to Hope’s Village.

We discovered that Hope’s Village is a place for homeless veterans who need shelter. This village is a substance-free place where they can start getting their lives on track in homes that Cal Poly students donated.

We reached out to the student making this their senior project, but they did not respond. They only platform we could find this student on was LinkedIn, which is not an ideal platform to talk over.

During the first week, the city council approved the ordinance that allows tiny homes in the city and it gave us a new angle for our story.

The new angle turned into how students and millennials can use tiny homes to stay in San Luis Obispo. That or even for housing since 64 percent of students live off-campus.

During an interview with Mayor Harmon, she mentioned that students who go through the SLO Hothouse have to leave the area with their business because they cannot afford to live here. All the businesses that leave the area to start somewhere else are hurting the potential of downtown San Luis Obispo.

“It has always been a dream of mine to interview SLO’s Mayor, and I was fortunate enough to do so when writing this story of tiny homes,” said Molly Schrum, the writer for the story.

Molly Schrum sits in the San Luis Obispo city hall waiting to interview with the Mayor.

“It is one of the main risks to our long-term economic vitality. We are having a hard time growing businesses here because folks can’t find a place to live.”  Mayor Heidi Harmon said.

This angle further developed after researching statistics and discovering how expensive it is to live in San Luis Obispo.

San Luis Obispo is 33 percents above the national average in cost of living. This encompasses house prices, food and other expenses to live in the area.

“Many people we talked to have wished that Cal Poly students could afford to stay in SLO and develop businesses here to help contribute to the community,” Schrum said.

As a group and as Cal Poly students we were very excited about this new angle. Housing is very expensive in San Luis Obispo and is something we have all dealt with.

We were certain this was developing into a solid story that touched San Luis Obispo communities as well as Cal Poly students. We believed that this should be a publishable story as well.

Then Mustang News published Tiny Homes are approved in SLO: how a new type of student housing could be on its way. This really shocked our group because we shouldn’t have been writing the same story.

After reading that story and seeing that their one interview was not related to students staying here after graduation, we felt better. We didn’t hate the article but we analyzed how ours will be different and it brought us together.

“I am confident in our team and our ability to create a cohesive and unique angle!” Schrum said.

Wikipedia Commons | Tiny homes on display in Portland, Oregon.