Today I was writing an article about Portland’s new solution to their homelessness crises, using tiny houses. Here’s what I learned:
- Portland, Oregon has a homelessness problem that puts it in the big leagues with NYC, San Francisco, D.C. and Boston. Six per every 1,000 residents are homeless (and that’s just the official count).
- According to the UN, housing is a basic human right. That’s not some new-fangled liberal idea, that was part of a declaration in 1948.
- People transition out of homelessness when they have a place to call home. Duh. How is anyone supposed to face the problems that made them homeless in the first place, whether it’s addiction, mental illness, or just financial problems, when they are fighting for survival every day on the street?
- Dignity Village in Portland has been operating since the year 2000 and they have had great success in creating community for homeless folks. That sense of community is another huge factor in helping the marginalized in our society out of their situations.
So I got curious about a Tiny House Village movement I’ve been hearing about in Ashland. I’ll be honest – I didn’t think too much of the idea when it was first proposed. Hannah and I worked so hard for our little house, and continue to do so. Would it mean as much to us if it had just been handed over?
I realized today that it doesn’t matter. In our walks around South Ashland and the rural community we live in, we see tents tucked in by the railroad tracks and under the I5 bridges. These are not the “transient” kids that hang around downtown. They are families. They look like migrants and refugees from down south (although I’m just assuming that) who would have no access to the kinds of privileges and resources that Hannah and I have received. I do know that being homeless makes it nearly impossible to find steady work, let alone think about building a permanent dwelling.
Enter the Ashland Tiny House Village project. Turns out they’ve gotten funding for their piece of land, they just need city approval to move forward. They are asking Ashland residents to sign a petition.
I did that, but don’t have much faith in petitions, so I went right to the City website and emailed the Council members directly.
Here’s the text of my email, in case you would like to use it! Feel free to amend and add on as you see fit.
Dear City Council Members,
If you haven’t yet explored the website of Portland’s Dignity Village (https://dignityvillage.org/), I invite you to click the link right now. Go to the About page.
Thank you! Now, imagine what such a village could do for Ashland. Rather than having homeless men, women and children camping out beneath bridges and in the parks, they could have real housing that allows them to transition to a stable life.
When I first heard of the Ashland Tiny House Village project, I was thinking some of the things you might be: They could be messy; they might encourage homelessness rather than stop it. Then I read the research and the actual experiences of cities like Salt Lake City, that has cut homelessness 90%! A big part of their strategy is housing the homeless. When homeless individuals live in a community, they find the support they need to face the challenges that caused them to be homeless in the first place.
The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights — adopted way back in 1948! — recognizes adequate housing as a basic human right. Tiny Houses are a beautiful and efficient way to offer this human right.
Portland is building its first City-sanctioned Tiny House village to address its massive homeless problem. We could be the first innovative small town in Oregon to do the same. Thank you for considering the request of Karen Logan and the Ashland Tiny House Group to pursue their project.