At Tuesdays happy hour, our visiting presidential candidate asked us about OpportUNITY Village and Conestoga huts, two innovative, extremely inexpensive ways of housing folks that were born of brilliant and compassionate minds in our community. We didn’t have all the facts at our fingertips at the time, so did a bit of research. Here is a bit more about these great nonprofit projects….
OpportUNITY Village Eugene (OVE) is a community of 30 very tiny houses/shelters (8×8 and 8×10 feet) on an acre of city-owned land in the Trainsong neighborhood (that is, near the railroad tracks). They are intended as very basic, transitional housing for formerly homeless people, and kitchen and bathroom facilities are shared. The total cost to build all 30 houses on the city-owned land was less than $100,000; in comparison, conventional development of low-income housing costs $200K+ per unit. The cost to operate the community is $5/night per person. PBS showcased the village in 2014.
The equally impressive Emerald Village Eugene (EVE) is a community of twenty-two 160-330sf tiny houses that rent for $250-$350/month to people with very low incomes. We have learned that this is called (by some) <deeply affordable housing>, to distinguish between it and housing for folks making, say, 50-80% of area median income (AMI), which is considered affordable housing but can still be deeply unaffordable for people on fixed incomes or with low-paying jobs.
Both villages were spearheaded by Andrew Heben, a young urban planner and author of Tent City Urbanism, who also founded the nonprofit SquareOne Villages along the way. An excerpt from his book tells the long and patient tale of how both villages came to be, and this excellent Huffington Post video showcases both OVE and EVE.
As is shown in the video, Opportunity Village also hosts several Conestoga huts on their site. Those, and 100+ more that are clustered in several gated Safe Spot Communities, or hosted at churches, nonprofits + private homes, were built and are overseen by Community Supported Shelters (CSS), another Eugene nonprofit, for under $3,000 each. Here they are on video.
Our group was warmly received at CSS today, and I hope to do a separate post on that experience in the near future.