July 31, 2017

ICYMI: Village movement gains traction as housing alternative, goes mainstream

Michael Parkhurst, program officer for Meyer Memorial Trust's Affordable Housing Initiative, says we need more models, including homeless villages like the Kenton Women's Village shown here. Photo by Jaime Valdez

Ground broke this spring on a homeless village in North Portland, a controversial idea aimed at providing homes to those who might otherwise live on the streets. 

The concept, which is gaining traction in Oregon, got a boost last year from Meyer's Affordable Housing Initiative:

"I think there's a widespread sense that if we keep doing what we've been doing, we're never going to meet more than a sliver of need," said (Michael) Parkhurst, program officer for the Meyer Memorial Trust, who helps lead the trust's $15 million, five-year Affordable Housing Initiative.

Last year, the Meyer trust gave Eugene's Square One Villages $148,200 to support an unconventional housing alternative: a homeless village. Emerald Village, which broke ground in May, is a permanent, cooperatively owned settlement. Each of its 22 tiny houses, ranging from 160 to 280 square feet of living space, will have its own kitchenette and bathroom and will rent for $250 to $350 per month. Construction on the village began in May.

"If you'd have asked me a few years ago, would Meyer Memorial Trust be putting money into that, I'd have been skeptical," Parkhurst says.

Check out the Portland Tribune's full story, by Thacher Schmid, here.