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Santa Cruz Woman Builds Tiny House and Donates to Homeless

Kendall Ronzano is a college student from Santa Cruz with a big heart and a great cause – Nerd Girl Homes – Building tiny houses for a good cause, because shelter is a birthright not a privilege. This is such a great story and we are super impressed with Kendall.





After a complicated, arduous three-and-a-half-year relationship, “Ruby” feels like a family member to Kendall Ronzano.


Ruby is a 117-square-foot trailer-mounted “tiny home” Ronzano began building at age 16 in her Westside backyard. Last week, Ruby figuratively rolled off into the sunset, on its way to Austin, Texas. The house will provide shelter to a homeless person or family in a budding supportive housing community there.

“Preferably, I wanted a place in Santa Cruz,” Ronzano said of plans to donate her tiny home. “Because I love the amount of support for our community, it’s been amazing. Even just the local industries.

“But, as soon as I found this organization, it really kind of appealed to me is I was watching Alan Graham’s videos, just his views and concepts, and he’s been working for the past 10 years on creating this plan,” Ronzano said. “One of the things that I’ve admired is they just have it together on that portion.”

The lessons Ronzano learned along the way, in addition to the practical skills needed to build a home single-handedly, were about community support and gender prejudices inherent in her chosen future career field of design in mechanical engineering.

Ronzano created her own website and construction blog, dubbed her effort Nerd Girl Homes blog, and solicited public donations of cash in materials amounting to nearly $16,000 from more than 200 people. Now a 20-year-old Dartmouth College sophomore, Ronzano said she has felt better equipped to progress professionally.

“It definitely taught me some lessons along the way. Something about keeping with it, getting back on the horse as fast as you can,” Ronzano said inside her recently finished project. “I received some emails along the way from people who thought I didn’t have the right intention. I was kind of surprised, like, ‘You don’t even know me.’ They thought that I was just trying to take people’s money, to build it for myself.”

One Comment

  1. Hello – this is such a great story and who doesn’t love Santa Cruz. The tiny house movement is growing so fast and I LOVE the TV show Tiny House Hunting on FYI. Thanks for sharing.

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