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Tiny homes for trans women of color focus of Tucson's Outlaw Project

Tiny homes for trans women of color focus of Tucson's Outlaw Project

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Volunteers will raise the walls of the first of two tiny homes planned as temporary housing for transgender women of color this weekend in Tucson.

The project, coordinated by the nonprofit Outlaw Project, is near East Grant Road and North Stone Avenue.

They're in need of at least 25 volunteers to help lift the heavy wood frames.

The organization prioritizes the "leadership of transgender women, BIPOC, gender non-binary, migrant and sex worker folks."

It was formed in 2016 by coordinator Monica Jones and was named in honor of Sharmus Outlaw, a Black trangender woman and sex worker who was an advocate for the rights of her community.

Jones said she noticed a a shift in housing opportunities for BIPOC trans women during the pandemic, which led them to "pivot their focus" to housing as rent prices were increasing.

"My dream was to create tiny homes out of shipping containers but that dream got crushed when the state restricted them," Jones said. "So now, with a bit more money, we've built timber frames and we're using natural resources like adobe straw, and that's what we're working with for now."

The first unit they'll be working on is a long structure, with the goal of turning it into two studio apartments.

Jones said that at the time the pandemic began, the number of apartments that were "trans-friendly" were decreasing.

"Black trans women are the most marginalized group of people and they are usually most likely to face violence," Jones said. "The goal is let's make it a safe space for trans women to live in."

The Outlaw Project has a goal of making long-term housing in the future, but for the time being, the tiny homes will serve as transitional respite free of cost for transgender women to safely live in while they figure out what their next step is when it comes to housing.

"We will conduct interviews and it doesn't matter if the person has arrest records," Jones said. "We only ask they save 30 percent of their income so that when the time comes for them to move out, they have money saved up. That's the fee. Save 30 percent of your income while you're living there."

The house-raising will take place on Saturday, May 13, and Sunday, May 14, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The group will have snacks and drinks on site for volunteers. They ask people to bring work gloves and sun protection.

Bianca Morales is’s Cultural Expression and Community Values reporter, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.

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