Students are building homes out of school buses for displaced wildfire victims

A school bus that is being converted into temporary housing.

A school bus that is being converted into temporary housing.

Sydney Dauphinais

Last autumn’s fire in Almeda burned down thousands of houses and left many unemployed. Several nonprofits have partnered with schools in Jackson County to start the bus project – a program that invites students to convert school buses into homes.

Alli French, a member of the local nonprofit Talent Maker City, helps manage The Bus Project.

“This is a truly unique way for students to be involved at their own agency in building their own skills,” says French, “as well as giving back to their community and ensuring that our families can go home and that our community is taken care of. “

The goal is to have the first two buses, donated by the Skoolie Home Foundation, renovated into residences by the end of this school year. The buses are designed as four-person households, complete with kitchen, plumbing and electricity.

French also says she sees this as an opportunity to teach students practical skills that could be useful in the future.

“So you could look at construction, you could look at people doing plumbing, it could be electrical, it could be architecture and design or interior design,” she said. “But there is room for that in our valley at each of those levels. It’s high pay, in-demand careers, and if we can get students interested in those pathways, we’re going to rebuild over the next 10 years. “

French says they plan to expand the program to more schools in Jackson and Josephine counties in the fall.

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