June 13, 2018 Dena Jensen
OpportUnity Village is one project of Square One Villages, an organization whose projects benefit people experiencing homelessness, and that believes, “that everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home.” Based in Eugene, Oregon, the organization which hosts three separate tiny home projects, says on their website About Us page, “SquareOne seeks to bridge the often insurmountable gap between the street and conventional housing with a variety of simple, cost-effective housing options.”
Of the three Square One Villages, Cottage Village is in the planning stages, Emerald Village provides permanent, accessible and sustainable tiny homes in Eugene, and OpportUnity Village, also in Eugene, is a transitional housing community which provides temporary shelter for individuals without homes until people can move into permanent, more affordable housing.
On Thursday June 7, 2018 Road Trip: Listen To America shared a video entitled Tiny Homes For A Growing Epidemic on their Facebook page. Besides offering an inspiring glimpse at the exteriors and interiors of the tiny homes, and general lay out of the community, the video features compelling statements from some of OpportUnity Village’s residents and an overview of the intent and community make-up of the village by Project Director Andrew Heben.
There are many motivational and insightful things about this short video and I believe it can serve to help us all understand the critical need for such projects in our own community and why our support and involvement is urgently necessary.
In Whatcom County, HomesNOW! Not Later President Jim Peterson, and members of the HomesNOW! team have visited a similar tiny home community in Seattle and have built their own tiny homes that have been placed on land on the Lummi Indian Reservation. On the HomesNow! website it says, “HomesNOW! has a plan that is very simple. The plan is just to go from Point A to Point B, and that is to take a homeless person off the street and house them, plain and simple.”
The first two tiny homes placed on the Lummi reservation that HomesNow! built were done as a project in collaboration with another organization, Lummi Stepping Stones, a part of whose mission is to, “provide Tribal Members/Families a home that is suitable for individuals, families and children that is safe, clean and drug free while they continue their journey of getting back on their feet.” HomesNOW! is currently seeking zoning changes and Whatcom County property that will allow their organization to create a tiny home community in Whatcom County. You can contact HomesNOW! through their Contact page, https://homesnow.org/contact/, or message them at, m.me/HomesNowNotLater
Here is one statement from the “Tiny Homes For A Growing Epidemic,” video by one of the OpportUnity Village members:
“I’ve been living at the village for about three months. I was on the waiting list for probably like 3 or 4 months. I had been sleeping out of a camping bag. I didn’t want to go to the Mission. I had stayed there when I first got to town. None of the people there have any kind of sensitivity training for dealing with trauma triggers or anything like that. It was very trans-unfriendly so I didn’t feel safe there. I don’t need a lot of space. A home can be any place you feel comfortable resting your head. And I don’t need much more than that as long as there’s people I love, I will be home.”
Square One Villages provides a timeline on their website that offers a modest sense of what it has taken in time and effort to bring these communities from dream to reality. Below are highlights from the timeline:
- Opportunity Eugene Task Force on Homeless Solutions makes recommendation to City Council to establish a safe and secure place to be, independently financed with oversight by a non-profit organization”
- Eugene City Council directs City staff to take the steps necessary to locate a pilot “micro-housing project for the homeless” on one-acre of City-owned land at 111 N. Garfield St.”
- Conditional use permit approved for Opportunity Village pilot project with no opposition present at final hearing”
“That same month
- Opportunity Village ribbon cutting ceremony, first dozen residents move-in”
You can visit the Square One Villages website and find out more information about them here:
Here are links to Facebook and website links for HomesNOW! Not later:
And here are Facebook and website links, plus the Contact page for Lummi Stepping Stones – “A Le Leng” – “Ne’Wi Leng”: