Opportunity Village Eugene, and more


By Max R. Weller

Great things are happening in Eugene, OR (and elsewhere around the country).

Read about it here. Copied from the OVE webpage:

The completion of the village was celebrated at an open house on May 31 with approximately 200 people from the community stopping in for a tour or joining the opening ceremony with Mayor Piercy, OVE Board members and villagers.  While 30 units were originally planned for the village, the Board has opted to leave one space open for future use.  With the construction phase complete and the village near capacity, we can now show our cost for this innovative shelter.  The entire project was completed with just under $100,000 in cash donations and nearly an equal amount in materials and in-kind donations.  If the village were closed today, the cost of operating the village would amount to $12/bed night.  But if you amortize the construction cost over five years, assume the same operating costs as our last quarter for the remaining four years, the cost of operating the village comes to less than $3/bed night.  In other words, for less than $3/night, we are providing safe and decent shelter for 35 members of our community.  Subtract from that the $30/monthly utility fee which each villager pays, the actual cost paid by our donors comes to less than $2/night for each person.  This is an amazingly affordable model for providing basic shelter.  Not surprisingly, we continue to see strong interest around the country in similar models.  Work is about to begin in Austin, Texas, on a project with 200 tiny houses very similar to OVE.  Josh Alpert, with the City of Portland, recently announced plans to begin a micro-housing project on public property in Portland early next year.  Eugene can take pride in being a leader in this creative solution to a continual crisis in our nation.  The OVE Board is most appreciative of our working relationship with the city and various community partners to bring to fruition the vision we first articulated two years ago for a self-managed model community of tiny houses to provide shelter and support for people experiencing homelessness.  

The OVE Board, however, is not content to rest on these laurels.  We want to go a step further.  The problem of homelessness is complex but common to all without shelter is lack not just of income but of assets.  Many of the villagers have income but not enough to pay rent in current housing market and without other assets, their very modest income does not enable them to find any other housing.  Therefore, OVE is planning to build a second village, named Emerald Village, of 15 larger units which will be co-owned by the villagers, enabling them to build equity which will become an asset that they can use in the future to further improve their situation.  Similar to OVE, there will be a common bathhouse, kitchen and gathering space.  Unlike OVE, the units in Emerald Village will have electricity and heat. Residents will be required to show ability to make payments of $200 to $250/month.  A portion of these payments will go into their equity accounts providing them with an asset they can use if and when they choose to move out of the village.  Rules for living in Emerald Village will be similar to that of Opportunity Village.  Residents who currently are at Opportunity Village and who have sufficient income will become the first residents of Emerald Village, thereby freeing up space for other at Opportunity Village.  Those chosen for Emerald Village will also participate in its construction, putting in an minimum of 50 hours towards completion of the project. OVE has already received $130,000 in gifts and pledges toward Emerald Village.  We will be seeking to raise another $200,000 to $250,000, depending on land costs.  We look forward to working with the city on this next ground breaking project to demonstrate yet another way we can work together to make life better, not only for many who currently live on the street, but to improve the well being of our entire community in the process.


The construction phase, 2013

Also, watch this video.

My take: Boulder, CO remains committed to hugely expensive projects (example: 1175 Lee Hill at an initial cost of over $6 million to build just 31 units for single adults) which serve only a limited number of homeless people, and the remainder on the streets are stuffed like sardines into emergency overnight shelters with no dignity and no hope. To be blunt: Boulder, CO is NOT a “progressive” city in any sense of the word, and especially NOT in re homelessness.

Here in our fair city, “serving” the homeless is Big Business and MORE HOMELESS PEOPLE = MORE MONEY. This is why local shelter/services providers — Boulder Shelter for the Homeless and Bridge House — welcome the horde of transients from Denver and elsewhere, and refuse to give priority to Boulder County’s own homeless people.


Arriving in Boulder, CO on Wednesday: “Where can we get Free Stuff?”

The National Weather Service forecast calls for favorable conditions all week long, as I prepare to return to my humble campsite in north Boulder. Friends and neighbors in the area who don’t follow this blog are probably wondering what has become of me, but I’m just recuperating in comfort at a secret location in a nearby city.

Tonight at my lair: homemade biscuits.


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