Brad Gustafson works to create small home structures and a shelter for unhoused people at the Moccasin Flats camp.
He is a carpenter and merchant and was introduced to the residents of Moccasin Flats through a man who helped him get off the streets.
“Believe it or not, I met a guy on the street, and he was in bad shape. He was coming off drugs and trying to get off drugs and he was in a wheelchair and needed a bunch of help cleaning up,” Gustafson said.
He said he invited the man to come and live with him for two months before he finally went to rehab.
“But in that two-month period, he introduced me to all these guys, because he had the heart to connect with them.”
During this process, Gustafson said he realized he needed to step in and help with shelters.
“I started coming up with designs, strategizing about methods and options and how to do it,” he said, adding that he started out building 4-by-8-foot boxes, but has since moved away from that to larger, more comfortable structures.
Gustafson and volunteers are currently building a bunk house that has insulation, bunk beds and a seating area that will serve as another warm place for people to be in the winter.
If people can’t or don’t want to go to the hospital or don’t fit the criteria for a vigilance center, this could be an alternative place for them to go, he said.
“This would be a nice place to take people to sleep in an emergency, and keep them off the street, so we’re isolating it for that purpose.”
He said he had high hopes that the building would be very useful, but since the cold had already set in, they were scrambling to get it done.
Gustafson also said there is a need for people to overcome the stigma towards less fortunate people and start getting involved in solving problems instead of sitting and judging others.
He added: “The more you get to know them, the more you realize that they are just people.” “They’re just people so I have to love them and they have to love me back a little bit, and I feel like we’ve created a relationship of trust and that only comes from spending time here.”
Philip Fredrickson, who also spends his time volunteering at Moccasin Flats, is working with Gustafson to organize a GoFundMe to solicit donations for the project to build both tiny housing and tiny home buildings.
He said they had a wish list of 55 people who wanted a tiny house.
He said they received donations of building materials from private companies and community members.
“I try to keep this very transparent,” Fredrickson said, adding that he posts receipts for donations and supplies purchased on the “Together We Stand” Facebook group to keep a record of how much has been spent and project updates.
Those who would like to support the project financially can find a GoFundMe link online.