775-764-8115
HomesOnWheelsAlliance@gmail.com

Van Builds

Part 3 – Journey of an Astro Van

It’s finally time for the Astro van to become a Home on Wheels for a deserving recipient! Barbara has been couch surfing in the homes of friends and family for several months. During this time she was making preparations to move into her car but it would have been a difficult life because she has significant back problems. As a long-time fan of Bob’s videos she was aware of the minivan award program but was surprised and honored to be chosen as the recipient of the Astro van. Barabara is excited to start her new life in the Astro which will be a more comfortable than living in her car because she will be able to stand up with room to spare.

None of this would have been possible without the generous donations from the nomadic community, the donation of the Astro van and tires by Richard and Amy, the repairs by Silver Star Auto, and the donation and installation of the hightop by Fiberene.  To make life even more comfortable and convenient GoSun donated a GoSun Kitchen which includes an oven, cooler, solar panels, and components.

A big thank you to all of the donors and the volunteers! To donate go HERE. To apply for a minivan go HERE.

Hard at work – Barbara with handyman volunteer, Duanne, and volunteer mentor, Ditzy

Read more

HOWA Vehicles

Vehicles of HOWA’s Build Program

Between Summer 2019 and Fall 2021, HOWA has purchased or has been gifted 16 vehicles.  Eighteen people, on the edge of homelessness, have been granted vehicles as their homes on wheels.  Each vehicle was selected to provide a safe and secure home for its new owner(s).  Some of these vehicles have had a series of events happen with them; while others simply went to their new homeowner and are completing their charge by providing dependable shelter.  Here is a listing of those granted vehicles in the order of purchase or donation.

  1. Minivan One

    Minivan One:  Funds for purchase were donated by an anonymous donor.  Awarded August 2019 to Recipient 1, then returned to HOWA in September 2021.  The nomadic life wasn’t a good fit for her.  While the minivan was being transported to Pahrump in September 2021, to be granted to another person in need, it was in an accident with a deer.  HOWA had full coverage on it with a $1000 deductible.  The minivan is totaled, the volunteer transporter was not injured.  HOWA is still waiting to hear from the insurance adjuster.  All funds received for this vehicle will go back into the Build Program.
  2. Travel Trailer:  Trailer donated by anonymous donors.  Awarded October 2019 to Recipients 2 and 3.  Remains the home on wheels for a nomad couple.
  3. Minivan Two:  Vehicle donated by an anonymous donor.  Awarded October 2019 to Recipient 4.  The Recipient fulfilled the escrow savings agreement within six months, sold the awarded minivan, and replaced it with a different vehicle in 2020.  For clarity of expectations for these grants, recipients are now required to live out of their awarded vehicles for at least 3 years before they can sell it.
  4. Cargo Trailer:  Trailer purchased with contributions from many donors.  Awarded October 2019 to Recipients 5 and 6.  Converted by volunteers into a home for mother and son.  The trailer remains their home on wheels.
  5. Minivan Three:  Vehicle purchased with contributions from many donors.  It was ready to be awarded October 2019.  Unfortunately, the selected client’s mobility was such that she couldn’t safely get in and out of the minivan.  As a result, the minivan was saved to be re-granted in Spring 2020.  Sadly, it was totaled in a roll-over accident to avoid a head-on collision in the Winter of 2020.  No fatalities.  Vehicle did not have full insurance coverage; but was sold for scrap with those funds paying for its storage fees.
  6. School Bus “Hannah”:  Donated by the family of David Ainley, HOWA Trustee, after his passing.  Converted by David.  Awarded October 2019 to Recipient 7, a retired mechanic with the skills and ability to maintain it.  It is still his home on wheels.
  7. Minivan Four:  Funds for purchase were donated by Lectrice Bikes. In July 2020, this minivan wasn’t a good fit

    Minivan Four

     for the client due to her multiple chemical sensitives (MCS).  So, instead it was awarded in August 2020 to Recipient 8.  Sadly, that recipient passed away in early 2021.  The minivan was returned and awarded again in April 2021 to Recipient 14.  It was totaled in an accident with a deer in May 2021, no injuries to the recipient.  That recipient moved into an RV. 
  8. Minivan Five:  Funds for purchase were provided by an anonymous donor.  This minivan was the previous home of a nomad with MCS.  Unfortunately, it still triggered MCS symptoms in the client, like Minivan Four.  So, instead, this minivan was awarded in October 2020 to Recipient 9; it remains her home on wheels.
  9. Truck with Cap:  Truck was purchased utilizing contributions from many donors for the client with MCS who could not use either Minivans Four or Five.  It had no carpeting and initially seemed to work for her.  But, sadly, she found that it triggered her MCS symptoms.  The truck was subsequently sold and funds from the sale reimbursed to the Build Program.  Sadly, HOWA was not able to source a vehicle, within our means, that would not trigger this client’s MCS symptoms.
  10. Minivan Six:  This vehicle was donated, built out, and transported by the Arcuses and friend.  Awarded
    October 2020 to Recipient 10.  That recipient exited the program to move into a larger van in the Summer of 2021.  The minivan was returned, inspected and readied for Recipient 17 in October 2021.

    Minivan Five

  11. Minivan Seven:  Funds for purchase were donated by Lectric eBikes.  Awarded October 2020 to Recipient 11.  It remains the recipient’s home on wheels.
  12. Minivan Eight:  Funds for purchase were contributed by an anonymous donor.  Awarded October 2020 to Recipient 12.  Remains the recipient’s home on wheels. 
  13. Minivan Nine: Funds for purchase were donated by Nomadland Productions.  Awarded April 2021 to Recipient 13.  Remains the recipient’s home on wheels.
  14. Minivan Ten:  Funds for purchased were donated by Nomadland Productions.    Awarded April 2021 to Recipient 15 and remains the recipient’s home on wheels.
  15. Minivan Eleven:  Funds for purchase were donated by an anonymous donor.  Shelving & bed platform were donated by Camp N Car.  Awarded April 2021 to Recipient 16.  Remains the recipient’s home on wheels. 
  16. Minivan Twelve:  Donated, repaired, and transported by the Brownes, with a hightop donated by Fiberine, and Solar Kitchen donated by Go Sun.  Will be awarded October 2021 to Recipient 18.

Minivan Ten

TIMELINE of Service for HOWA’s Granted Vehicles

Read more

Part 2 – Journey of an Astro Van

The Astro gets a hightop!

After a thorough inspection by Silver Star Auto, the Astro van, rolling smoothly on new tires, was ready for the next step – the installation of a hightop by Fiberene! Once again the donors, Richard and Amy, graciously offered to deliver the van and pick it up when the job was finished.

Fiberene generously donated the hightop and the labor which was completed by Gonzalo Rico. Installing a hightop is an exacting process that involves cutting and removing the roof of the van, and properly sealing between the van roof and the hightop to prevent leaks.

On the drive back to their house Richard and Amy discovered that the repairs on the air conditioner done by Silver Star Auto had not solved the problem. Back at the shop, Silver Star Auto diagnosed a bad compressor which would cost $1,300 to replace. Neither Richard and Amy or HOWA could afford to pay that much. Not to be deterred, Richard contacted Anderson Auto Group, the owner of Silver Star Auto, and explained the situation.  Anderson offered to do the work free of charge!

Fixed and ready to be delivered to HOWA at Pahrump, Nevada!

Thanks you Richard and Amy, Gonzalo Rico of Fiberene, Chance Corbitt General Manger of Silver Star Auto, and Anderson Auto Group for your generosity!

Read more

Part 1 – Journey of an Astro Van

A wonderful donation has come to Homes on Wheels Alliance in the form of a 1999 Chevy Astro van! Astro vans are very reliable mechanically, have good ground clearance, and a surprising amount of interior space for a vehicle that’s under 16 feet in total length.

The Astro was donated by Richard and Amy after Amy purchased another vehicle and no longer needed the van. But they didn’t stop at donating the van. They took the van to Silver Star Auto for a pre-purchase mechanical inspection and also had the air conditioning repaired. Next, they bought new tires! Richard and Amy have really gone above and beyond to make sure that their donation is in good working condition for a deserving recipient.

Applications for the Astro, which will be awarded in September 2021, can be found HERE. All applications are carefully reviewed by the HOWA staff. The chosen recipient will spend two weeks in Pahrump, Nevada camping with the HOWA staff and an experienced nomad volunteer mentor. We are excited about awarding this van to a nomad!

Watch for Part 2 – The Astro Gets a Hightop!

Read more

April 2021 Minivan Recipients

After carefully considering all of the applicants for the minivans, four recipients were chosen by the HOWA staff. Each recipient was responsible for providing their own transportation to Pahrump, Nevada where they joined a small group of HOWA staff and volunteers. Two recipients came for the first two weeks in April and two more for the second two weeks. Recipients and volunteers camped together on BLM land during this mentoring period which also gave the recipients a chance to experiment with the best arrangement for their furnishings and belongings.  Since coronavirus was still a concern three builds used ready-made furnishings, a 100W foldable solar panel, and a portable power station. The fourth minivan had a Camp N Car’s prototype bed and shelving kit installed. Camp N Car is a new HOWA sponsor and has committed to donating a kit to HOWA for every 10 they sell.

  Meet the new minivan recipients!

Richard

Richard has been a vehicle dweller for 24 years, spending the spring and summer in Washington state and the fall and winter in Tuscon, Arizona, and Florida. He camps on the property of family and friends, helping out with chores and house sitting. While traveling to Florida, he became stuck in traffic on the interstate in Texas during the winter storms of February 2021 and the transmission in his van failed. With his van inoperable he rented a room in a motel to assess his options. A chance encounter with a fellow nomad staying at the same motel led to a conversation about HOWA and the minivan program. Richard applied and was accepted – HOWA’s first male minivan recipient! Most of the applicants to the program are female due to the large population of women who have not been able to build up a retirement fund and receive a low monthly Social Security check so we are pleased that Richard applied and was accepted.

KayT

When the apartment building where KayT rented was sold, she was left homeless and without a vehicle. She borrowed a car from her mother and found a small cargo trailer. A church gave her permission to park the trailer in their lot. KayT spent the winter in the lot, grateful for the place to stay and for the use of electricity to power a space heater and a small refrigerator. But this was a dull and colorless existence for KayT who is an avid camper and nature lover so she eagerly waited for the minivan applications to open in Feb. 2021. After being accepted as a minivan recipient and completing her two-week mentoring program KayT hit the road in her newly outfitted 2006 Chrysler Town & Country minivan.

Roxy

Roxy had been living with her daughter in her mobile home in South Carolina when she decided that she wanted to be on her own but at the age of 55 and disabled, she was struggling financially. Vandwelling seemed like a good option so she wrote to Bob Wells of Cheap RV Living for advice on buying a van. Bob encouraged Roxy to save the money that would be used for a van and apply for a minivan instead. Roxy’s new mini home is a 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan that came with orange flames on the sides which she decided to keep. The interior was provided by Camp N Car. The Camp N Car Kit needed a few modifications to fit into the Grand Caravan. The work was done by staff and volunteers along with Steve from Camp N Car. A Homes On Wheels Kit will be donated to HOWA for every ten that Camp N Car sells. Thank you Camp N Car!

Marla

Marla couldn’t make ends meet with her social security disability funds. Her rent and utilities took up too much of her income so, at 49, she applied for a minivan. A little home on wheels would satisfy her desire to travel and also allow her to stretch her funds. Marla is an experienced camper but not technology inclined so she found the information that her mentor shared with her very helpful. Marla’s minivan is a 2006 Honda Odyssey with 101,000 miles, previously awarded this past summer to Esther. Sadly, Esther passed away in March, and as outlined in the application process, the minivan was returned to HOWA.

Thanks to all of the staff and volunteers who came together in Pahrump for four weeks to make the minivan no-builds a success! Applications for the next four minivans will open at the end of August 2021.   Thank you to all who donated to the HOWA minivan fund and those who bought the wishlist Items!

Read more

Four Minivans Awarded!

Due to precautions because of the coronavirus pandemic, the fall minivan build was scaled down to an un-build with a small crew of HOWA staff members and volunteers. Over a two-week period, four recipients of minivans participated in a mentoring program and also spent time arranging  donated Amazon wishlist items into their new homes. Even though minivans are small each becomes a personalized space designed around different needs and decorating styles. Tents from HOWA’s Loaner Tent program served as temporary homes for the recipients until their minivans were ready.

The recipients of the minivans were:

Barbara

Barbara had boondocked for several years in her van but was living in a tent when she applied for a minivan. She received a Honda Odyssey donated by Robin and built out by David and several friends. This minivan was purchased and finished in the eastern US and delivered to the build location by the donors. Besides being thrilled with her new home Barbara is excited about the welcoming community that she’s found with her fellow nomads.

April

April moved into her SUV in June 2020 when rental payments left her with little money for other expenses. During the hot summer days in Missouri, she visited a women’s shelter to take showers and enjoy the air conditioning, but she still preferred the privacy of her own space in the SUV at night. When April was approved for a minivan, she headed to Pahrump, Nevada with barely enough money for gas and some apprehension that the transmission in her SUV could survive the trip. She arrived safely and donated her SUV to HOWA through the CARS program which sells vehicles for charities and returns 70% of the selling price to the donor’s chosen charity. Thank you, April, for the first CARS donation for HOWA!

Cindy

Cindy and her two cats, Bella and Kenze made a home in her Saturn after her roommate died following a long illness.  The car was clearly too small for all three of them and the extra supplies needed for the cats so getting accepted to be a minivan recipient was a godsend. The extra room has allowed Cindy to organize her new home so that everything has a place and is easy to find.

Christy

Christy has been a nomad for two years and lived in her car in Utah for about a year previous to that. She volunteered with HOWA as a caravan host and organizer for the RTR and WRTR. When her 2007 Toyota Sienna needed expensive repairs she was encouraged to apply for a minivan. Since Christy is an experienced nomad many of the components in her Sienna such as the solar system could be transferred to her new minivan home which is also a Sienna.

Thank you all who donated to the minivan fund and the Amazon Wishlist plus a special thank you to the donors of Barbara’s minivan.   Thanks to all the volunteers who helped at the un-build especially the mentors, Ditzy and Lesa, and the construction workers, Duane and Bob.

Read more