Arizona woman builds portable homes for the homeless - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Better Arizona

Arizona woman builds portable homes for the homeless

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GLENDALE, AZ (CBS5) -

Shannon Palermo has been building homes since January. But they're not the standard home.

The Glendale nursing assistant has been building what she affectionately calls shacks, which are essentially small, mobile homes for homeless people.

It's a labor of live she started earlier this year with no prior building experience.

"People that know me know that if I set my mind to it, I can do it," Palermo said about her relentless spirit.

When she heard what some folks in a handful of other states were doing - "They were taking recycled goods just like I do and turning them into houses for the homeless," she said - Palermo put out calls on Craigslist and Facebook for donations of recyclable material.

"The overwhelming support was unbelievable," she said about the response.

With that, Shannon's Shack Project was born.

Each shack she builds offers security with a locking door and windows too small for anyone to fit into.

"The frame of it is mostly pallets," she said about the shack she is currently building.

"The inside could be anything depending on what I have. Someone donated paneling, so that's what the inside of this is. They're all insulated with so much … when this one is done it will have a full bar that is easy to roll. That's why I have it all blocked up. I could push it myself down the street and control it."

Palermo furnishes the shacks with blankets, pillows, a sofa-bed made out of Styrofoam and each comes with what she calls a make-shift swamp cooler.

"[It's made] out of a Styrofoam box and two fans that were battery-operated as a mister system," she described.

She will usually build a shack in about a week and a half.

"I look at the stuff I get and it just sort of forms in my head like a puzzle and I build it," she said.

Right now she's working on her fifth shack with no intention of slowing down.

"I will continue to build as long as I have materials or I can find them myself. Or, if there are no more homeless people."

Palermo is hoping to have nonprofit status by the end of the year. Because she's doing all of this at her home, she'd love a bigger space to store materials and build more.

To donate materials or request a shack, contact Palermo on Craigslist, Facebook or on her website.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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