For more than three years, 23-year-old Baneen Albotaify bounced from one friend’s house to another, sleeping on couches or in laundry rooms while working on her college degree. The stress was high, but she couldn’t afford a place of her own.

“I was really depressed. I was always in survival mode,” says Albotaify, who lives in Tucson, Arizona.

After a friend told her about I Am You 360, a nonprofit that provides housing for young people, she applied for the program and her life began to change for the better. Albotaify is currently living in a studio apartment in a 10-unit building run by the nonprofit, alongside other formerly unhoused folks. She now works as an electrical technician and, after taking a semester off school, she plans to continue college in the fall.

By year’s end, Albotaify and some of her fellow tenants are slated to move into a new I Am You 360 housing project: an eco-friendly tiny house village currently under construction that, when completed, will include 10 homes, a water-harvesting system, and a community garden.

“We want to set them up for success,” says Desiree Cook, the nonprofit’s founder and executive director.

Success, for Cook, means integrating unsheltered young people back into society as well-rounded productive citizens. With a place to live, Cook says, these young people will no longer be continually victimized in the streets. While living in the tiny houses, tenants will have access to not only various tools that will help them forge a new life, but also common spaces where they can build community.

“There’s a difference between giving someone a house and giving them a house so that it can be a home,” Cook says.

Read the full article about building homes in Arizona by Lourdes Medrano at YES! Magazine.