Toolo and TAFE and tiny houses

Toolo, the Katoomba-based tool library, and TAFE have combined forces to teach a group of residents construction skills.

And the project will result in a tiny house which can provide housing to a single person in need.

It's a plan that addresses skills shortages, un- or underemployment and homelessness, all in one neat package.

Douglas Brown, from Toolo, said: "The idea of what we wanted to do is to teach people entry level skills in construction. The students are learning some really useful stuff."

TAFE NSW environmental studies teacher, Rick Toovey, said: "The six week introduction to the landscape skills course is providing these students with the transferrable skills they need to continue working on the Toolo project or explore further trade qualifications at TAFE NSW.

"Throughout the course the students get to familiarise themselves with the site and learn basic construction skills, how to safely operate power tools and basic site work to prepare them for future work."

The students ranged in ages and ability levels. Some had casual jobs, others were looking for work and some were hoping to change careers.

Josh Wolterding said: "It's the first time I've actually done any kind of building ever... I'm looking at living in a tiny house some day and I thought it would be good to be able to build it."

Claire Gladman, who used to work in human resources management and now does a range of volunteer work, said affordable housing was "a big interest of mine. I've been following the tiny house movement for years."

Penelope Walker, who works casually at Bunnings, said: "It's great to be able to learn organically through experience. It's more of a co-operative effort. People seem to be organising their own safety and looking after each other."

Mr Brown said in the long term, tiny houses might help ease the affordable housing crisis. There are about 200 homeless in the Mountains.

Jenny Ranft, division manager for community services at Wentworth Housing said in the last four years, there had not been one affordable place to rent in the Mountains for someone on Newstart.

"Also, most of the stock is two or more bedrooms and if you're a single person you don't actually need all that space."

Wentworth is actively looking for land on which to build a tiny homes village. They have already started such a project in Victoria on Vic Roads land which has been earmarked for road widening some time in the future.

Because the tiny homes can be moved around, such land is suitable in the shorter term for housing.

The construction lessons are being held behind Junction 142 in Katoomba, which houses the Earth Recovery Australia food rescue program and which also offers free meals through the Soul Kitchen.

One of the directors of Toolo, Justin Morrissey, said one element of Toolo's constitution emphasised education. "So it's a natural fit to work with TAFE and others and it's great to give something back to Junction 142."

Toolo is after donations for the project, particularly trailers, timber, metal and other building materials.

"Anything that would likely need to be put in a tiny home - it could even be cabinets or beds," said Mr Brown.