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Smaller than a one-car garage, a 120-square foot house in Silicon Valley could bring in $60,000 or more, based on the going cost-per-square foot of much larger homes.

In the nation's high-tech mecca of bubbling home prices, the house's builders aren't shy about hoping for the "or more" option.

What may sound like rabid real estate speculation run amuck is really news of a special 10-foot-by-12-foot playhouse for kids that's also designed as a fund raiser and awareness booster for homelessness.

EHC LifeBuilders of San Jose displayed the nearly completed house at an Independence Day celebration in San Jose in advance of it's completion to gain more support for the effort.

The finished product will symbolize LifeBuilders' cause -- each year assisting a large share of Silicon Valley's homeless -- 13,000 of them.

An estimated 20,000 people live without a home in Silicon Valley. Being at the mercy of the elements is tragedy enough. Unfortunately, there's more.

Without a home there is little chance of a sanitary place to store and prepare food, obtain water, bathe or groom. Without a home there's no address to leave for prospective employers and limited options to quickly obtain medical or emergency assistance, among a host of associated burdens.

Sponsored by SummerHill Homes of Palo Alto and constructed by Barry Swenson Builder, also of San Jose, the little home will feature thousands of 1-foot wooden rulers purchased by donors whose contributions acknowledge that the impact of homelessness is tough to measure.

The sale of 13,000 of the rules -- EHC's goal -- should nail home that message and donations are still being accepted online at LifeBuilders' website.

Contributors have the option to purchase a pair of rulers for a donation of $10 to $1,000. They may then sign one to add their name to the effort of ending homelessness. The signed ruler will be among the thousands used to finish the playhouse when they are permanently affixed to its exterior. The other ruler can be retained as a reminder of the plight of the homeless, donated to a public school or used for some other worthy cause.

The house of rules design was rendered by San Jose's Anderson Brule Architects from children's drawings of homes and will be framed by Santa Clara Valley Corp., owned by Swenson's son, Case. The house includes two levels of play, a tall chimney with an interior ladder that leads up to a balcony with wooden palm leaves and, on the ground floor, a play box for sand or balls.

The $15,000 project will be completed entirely with contributions in cash and sweat equity from builders, designers and sponsors.

After its appearance at the 4th of July celebration, the house was scheduled to be moved to its permanent location for use by kids living at and visiting the Sobrato Family Living Center in Santa Clara, a 50-unit LifeBuilder continuum-of-care housing program featuring an emergency shelter and access to permanent affordable housing, child care, education and recreation programs, life skills training and vocational services.

Formerly the Emergency Housing Consortium, LifeBuilders is the tech mecca's largest provider of shelter, housing opportunities and supportive services to people experiencing homelessness and related crises and seeks to reach even more.

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