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Sleep Cabins and How We Build Them

Emergency sleeping cabins are identified in the California Building Code, appendix O, as a “relocatable hard-sided structure” constructed in accordance with this part of the code, which may be occupied only for emergency housing if allowed by the enforcing agency. Members of Amikas wish to offer this housing so that women and children may have a safe place to sleep at night.

Locally sourced material

We shop almost all of our materials from local San Diego County suppliers. Our physical structure is one of very few where almost every dollar spent gets invested directly in the county.

Warmth of Wood

We use a material that is familiar to everybody and comes straight from the Earth. Nothing else provides the sense of warmth and homeliness of natural wood. It is grounding and comforting in its simplicity and purity.

Minimally skilled labor

Our pre-cut and pre-drilled kits are assembled with basic hand tools such as a tape measure, screw gun, and clamps. The entire assembly line is designed to be fulfilled by those experiencing homelessness so they can be a part of their own solution from the start. It is a workforce development opportunity looking for the right sponsor.

Simple kit-style construction

We machine our lumber to create a profile that streamlines assembly for novice carpenters and first-time cabin builders alike. The system, known as IWOOD, was invented by La Jolla resident Christopher Scott, of Treecycling, as inspired partly by the flat-pack style approach to furniture made popular by Ikea. The byproduct of the machining is shavings that make beautiful bedding for horses, among other applications.


Since our cabins are assembled with screws from pre-cut and mostly pre-drilled parts, they can easily be disassembled and stored for future reuse. Any part that doesn’t survive the disassembly process can be readily replaced on reassembly.

Peace and quiet

Cabin interiors have at least two fabric-covered wall areas to reduce sound reflections and create a more peaceful environment conducive to uninterrupted sleep. Extended sleep deprivation is a significant reason people experiencing homelessness behave unpredictably and uncooperatively when approached on the street. Sleep deprivation causes impaired decision making, increased anxiety, impaired emotional control, increased cortisol, decreased impulse control, decreased immune system, and increased blood pressure.* An unavoidable drawback of congregate living is its inability to provide a peaceful enough environment for uninterrupted sleep.


We advocate for individual cabins to provide a greater sense of autonomy for our guests. “If you believe you hold the keys to your fate, you are more likely to take action to change your situation when needed. If, on the other hand, you believe the outcome is out of your hands, you may be less likely to work toward change.” – SMART Recovery InsideOut, describing Locus of Control concept. For a more formal exploration on locus of control relative to self-rated health, please see this article on BMC Public Health, 23 May 2014.

*Sources:  Selective neuronal lapses precede human cognitive lapses following sleep deprivation,, 06 November 2017

We can all do better by our unsheltered neighbors. In fact, we must. Help us help someone in need. Donate or volunteer today!

Contact us

P.O. Box 5483
San Diego, CA 92165

(619) 512-3110