Oregon woman convert school bus into homes.
Homelessness can affect people of any age, from children to the elderly.
In 2016, Oregon Department of Education reported over 20,000 students were homeless. Julie Akins, who started ‘Understanding Homelessness,’ plans to start a new facet of her organization: using a school bus as a traveling education center as well as a possible temporary home for a couple homeless people or family if the bus isn’t traveling. Akins wants to get rid of any shame associated with being a homeless student one presentation at a time.
“I don’t want one of those children to have to experience shame as a result of being homeless,” Akins said.
Akins’s granddaughter, who’s in 3rd grade, helped prompt the idea after visiting Pioneer Hall, a warming shelter in Ashland that hosts homeless people three times a week, and noticing there were no children there. She also believes there may be a couple students in her class who are homeless.
Akins plans to fix up the bus before it gets used, so she’s hoping contractors will come forward to work with her and help make it livable.
“I’m not a mechanic, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I will find people to help me,” Akins said. “I’m going to buy a bus, I am going to convert it, I will find someone to allow me to park the bus.”
Akins hopes to be able to park it in a church or school parking lot when it’s not in use for presentations on homelessness. She wants to bring the bus to schools to educate children on homelessness and explain that it’s not their fault.
“Our communities need to understand there’s no reason in a country as wealthy as ours, that children should be homeless,” Akins said.
Akins has been traveling across Oregon to try and understand how to help. She has met people from across Jackson, Josephine and Curry Counties in southern Oregon which also helped give her this idea.
“I met a woman in Eugene who was living in a school bus, that was not yet converted, with four kids – probably more,” Akins said.
Akins believes the renovated bus can be done with a $20,000 budget. She says a private family foundation from the east coast helped with some of the funding going towards purchasing a bus.