Video by the Division of Rehabilitative Programs
Vocational students at the Correctional Training Facility (CTF) are learning valuable skills while also giving back to the community by constructing 60 “microhomes” that will be given to the homeless.
The program is the result of a partnership with the nonprofit group R-3 (Rehabilitation, Restoration, and Respite) and Lowe’s, which donated $1.5 million in building materials for the project.
CTF’s Valley Adult Schools’ Vocational Education Department makes sure that students are involved in all areas of construction: carpentry, construction technology, electrical, masonry, construction core, and welding.
This video is also available on YouTube.
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California is currently facing a housing and homeless crisis that is negatively impacting the citizens and the economy.
But with a lofty goal to combat two problems with one solution, the participants leading the way may surprise you.
I’m here at Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, California, to celebrate the ribbon cutting of the Microhome Project that’s been underway here for almost five years we’ve been in the planning stages, and finally today is the kickoff of that program where men that are incarcerated here at this facility are actually building homes as part of a training program, as well as giving back to the community to provide homes for the homeless population.
So CTF here at the training facility, we have a long history of doing the work that keeps our community safe.
When CTF was established, it was an era where prisons warehoused men.
But around the time that CTF was built and established, the department took a little different look at things, and we decided that training, educating, and rehabilitating inmates was how we’re going to keep our community safe.
That is why this place is called the Correctional Training Facility as opposed to this state prison or that state prison.
It’s a tradition that we still hold to this day, that we’re very proud of here at CTF.
And we’re very good at it, and by we I mean all of you.
These guys are getting ready. It’s rehabilitation in progress.
As the Microhomes Project gives these men the skills that they’re going to need to get those real-life jobs, and that’s what it’s all about.
I often say when I’m touring and talking to people that here at CTF, we’re changing the world. And really, we really are.
We’re affecting these men, their families, the communities they’re going to come home to.
We’re definitely changing the world.
Interestingly enough, when I was talking to some of the visitors that came in (with) the last group, they asked me, “Well, what’s the takeaway from this?”
Well, you know, the people, the state of California pay me to rehabilitate these men, and that’s a big part of what we’re doing.
But there’s more to it than just that with this project.
This project, we’re also addressing another grave concern for our state, and that’s homelessness.
Every day we see on the news the problem with homelessness, the concerns with homelessness.
Well with these microhomes, hopefully we can give a little bit of an edge to those people that are experiences some crises.
Let them get their feet back underneath them and hopefully become productive members of society once again.
Giving back obviously is a huge benefit for them, they really, they strive on that.
And, you know, the other benefit is that knowledge that they’re going to get just from working on actual projects that are going out.
You see we have projects that they do, but it’s the same project over and over again.
They put it together, they take it back out, where we have with the tiny home project, we actually are going to be able to give them real-world experience building something that’s going to be inspected by a building inspector, all phases of construction, from beginning to finish, all the way through.
So they’ll actually be able to see hands-on, real-world experience.
The initial pilot program will take place at the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, California.
There will also be some units built at the California Prison Industry Authority.
Eventually the program can be rolled out to multiple prisons in multiple regions based on success of the initial pilot.
It’s somewhat like an assembly line.
We’re going to build these microhomes on metal rails, on steel I-beams, so that they can have wheels put underneath them, just like they move mobile homes.
So we can put the beams, they can start the floor down.
In the carpentry they’ll frame it up, and we can wheel ti down here in front of this class, put all the plumbing under it, wheel it down to electrical, they can do the electrical, wheel it back over, they frame it.
So yeah it is a little bit of a process to go through, but each one of the classes back here get their time with that home to be able to work on it and make sure that everything is done right and up to code.
This is why we’re here. This is CDCR, this is CDCR.
For many years, Corrections has played a role in the state only by receiving the men and women from the 58 counties of this state and putting back out individuals with a hope that they’re being released better than they came in.
That the men that they’re teaching, that they are ready, that they have the ability, that they have skills, that they have purpose, and they’re adding to these skills as they prepare to leave this place.
But more importantly, before you leave, something is going to be going before you, and that is the image and the message that you built this.
You built this home that’s going to go and afford somebody housing, to live in a place where they can shut the door on their own, close it and lock it, and get a good night’s sleep.
You did that. You will be doing that. You will be changing lives and times and people and the trajectory of their lives beyond what you’ll even know.
To me, that’s what CDCR is.
Thank you for having me today. It’s an honor and a privilege to stand before you a free man.
My name is Chris Martinez and in my past, most of my adult life was spent in alcoholism.
But when I landed here at CTF, I found the rehabilitative programs that they offered and I took advantage of them.
I’m a graduate of Celebrate Recovery under Jesse Alvarez.
I’m a graduate of the TUMI Bible College thanks to Dave Dove and that organization, Prison Fellowship.
I took a much-needed computer literacy class that’s even helped me learn how to use my phone when I got out.
It’s vital, that training and technology learning, for us men who are getting out
But most importantly I took a vocation class called Building Maintenance under instructors Bigham and Sizemore.
This class taught me carpentry, masonry, electric, and plumbing.
I am now embarked upon trying to get my contractor’s license.
Three years ago, I was one of the inmates when we first built this tiny home and I can’t tell you the impact it had upon us prisoners being able, not only to get involved with learning the building trade, but being able to give back to society.
Our hearts were so overjoyed to help homeless people.
It gave our lives purpose as inmates, and when it was canceled three years ago, all us inmates were heartbroken that we couldn’t be involved in this project.
But lo and behold, the funding has some through and I am so honored and grateful to see this going forth not only to help the homeless, but it’s a wave of the future for all of the United States, I believe.
I’m so humbled and honored for CTF providing all the training to help give me new hope and a new life. CTF has transformed by life, and I’m grateful, and I look forward to making you all proud with what I accomplish in the future.