school bus
Cody Medina
Cody Medina
August 5, 2023 ·  5 min read

Next Stop for Retired School Buses: Tiny Houses for Homeless Families

As finding an affordable home becomes increasingly more difficult, people are turning to alternative ways of living. For some, this means being able to convert a retired school buses into tiny homes. It can take a while to refurbish a school bus into a livable home. However, if you’re willing to try, the results can be very fruitful. This family in southern Oregon is pretty happy with their reformed ‘skoolie’ home. Even though it’s a smaller shelter, it gets the job done for a family of four.

Welcoming The Floods

Thanks to the help of a nonprofit organization known as Vehicles for Change, the Floods family could make ends meet by transforming a retired school bus into a fully functional home for them. The bus boasts a master bedroom, bunk beds, workspace, kitchen, and a wood-burning stove. However, the journey to getting to this point wasn’t an easy one for the family. As affordable housing becomes extremely difficult to find, families are forced into finding other ways to thrive. Although this story was first published in 2019, it’s still a continuing reality to this day.

Image Credit: Janet Eastman | The Oregonian/OregonLive

The Floods family found sanctuary in a seemingly hopeless situation. After David, Jennifer, and their children, Raylee, David Jr., and Noah were homeless, they had to consider all possibilities. David had just lost his job and was desperately seeking an affordable shelter for his family, which isn’t exactly easy when there are four of you in need of space. The next best solution is to turn something that’s been retired for years into something new. However, this is obviously easier said than done. Having the mental fortitude and determination to make this plan come to fruition can take a toll on a desperate family.

Turning Retired School Buses Into New Homes

Living in retired school buses may not seem ideal, but the Floods family was more than willing to try. After a year of intense labor, fundraising, and stress with their builder, Cody Armond, this tiny home was finally ready. The ‘skoolie’ was stationed at the Jackson Wellsprings RV Park just outside of Ashland.

We didn’t think it would happen to us—but it did,” David explains their situation before the tiny home. “It’s not just the uneducated. I’m finishing my master’s degree. I had nowhere to work, so the skoolie enables me to get it done. I’m so relieved.” (1)

Image Credit: Julie Akins | Yes! Magazine

Having a tiny home gives a person access to affordable shelter. Providing the necessities for everyday living while paying super cheap for it. Sometimes not having to pay very much at all. With so much financial relief, David can maintain a sense of peace between work and his family. “It’s sure working for us. We can’t believe our luck.” He further explains. (1)

Unfortunately, their situation is not unique, as many families can relate. Especially college students who are living out of their cars to avoid extra costs. To put things into perspective, there are even whole families doing the same with minimal resources. That was the case for the Floods family as well. Having nonprofit organizations such as Vehicles for Change provides people with a chance to change this reality. However, it’s also entirely dependent on people who want to donate their vehicles.

Vehicles For Change

Despite the statistics showing a staggering number of homeless students, nonprofits have been a major help to the community. However, they are only able to help you with so much. Regardless of the variety of programs meant to help, it still takes a lot of effort to turn these dreams into reality. Not to mention the long waitlists that can sometimes last for years before receiving any attention. These are people with kids that have no way to house them or give them a decent lifestyle. Rising house prices paired with underpaid wages makes a living very difficult. As we’ve seen, the homeless community continues to grow throughout the previous years.

Image Credit: Janet Eastman | The Oregonian/OregonLive

Additionally, the pandemic has made it that much more difficult to find anything at all. People are scrambling to find ways to combat eviction notices as they are forced out of their homes. Properties are also being bought out at a high rate, making it even harder for people to find a piece of land to prop up their tiny homes.

Taking retired school buses and turning them into decent living spaces is a brilliant way to fight this inequality. It cost the Floods roughly $32,000 to refurbish their school bus home. It took about 8 months of intense labor to transform the school bus into something inhabitable. While only paying for the RV space rent, the nonprofit acts as landlords for the family. They also help find an RV place that will take them in while also offering a sliding scale, interest-free payment plan. Of course, this is if they are looking to buy the skoolie after they save enough money. This money will go to the nonprofit, which will allow them to create more tiny homes like this one.

Other Great Reasons For Retired School Buses

Something else to consider when purchasing a tiny home is your environmental impact, as tiny homes can easily help you reduce your carbon footprint. With the proper handling and know-how, your tiny home can do a lot for the surrounding nature. You’ll also find yourself spending less on items from town and opting to cook at home compared to going out. There are many secret money-saving alternatives when purchasing a tiny home. You just have to be willing to try some of these techniques to get the full effect.

There’s also a lot of mobility in owning a tiny home. Your family will be able to travel while working at the same time if you really need to. There may come a time where you want to relocate, and you’ll have everything you need to do so. Of course, it helps if you’re able to find an extremely helpful nonprofit just like Vehicles for Change.

If you wish to donate a vehicle or money, please visit their website for more information.

Keep Reading: You Can Get These Arched Tiny Home Kits For As Little As $1,300


  1.  Grateful for a home: Family moves into converted school bus (photos)” Oregon Live. Janet Eastman. November 19, 2018.
  2. Wallet Hub
  3. Vehicles For Change