Monday, October 20, 2014

An aerial view of Eugene, Oregon's alternative approach to dealing with homelessness



Between 2013 and 2014, two new non-profits have added 60 spaces of safe, dry shelter in Eugene, OR. This includes 30 units of micro-housing by Opportunity Village Eugene and 30 "rest stop" spaces by Community Supported Shelters (known as the Safe Spot and the Vet's Camp).

While this may be a drop in the bucket when looking at the estimated 1,300 citizens going unsheltered in Lane County's 2011 point-in-time count, it's a relatively quick and drastic move in the right direction—especially when compared to the rate at which more conventional non-profits have been adding shelter beds.

Google recently updated their satellite imagery, and now we can see what this shift looks like from above (click here to see for yourself). Quite a contrast to the large, sprawling scale of surrounding development. Below I take a historical look at the site on which Opportunity Village is located (111 N. Garfield St.), courtesy of good ol' Google Earth.

1995 - the two acre site hosted a 34-unit trailer park
2005 - empty spaces begin to appear at the trailer park
2006 - only a few trailers remain at the site
2011 - the property is acquired by the city through eminent domain and
rezoned as industrial - the property is lightly used for storage of city vehicles.
2012 - plans are put forth to develop a large city storage facility, but no
funding is available to begin the project
2013 - city council approves the site for a "transitional micro-housing project"
 as a one-year pilot project, pending the acquisition of a conditional use permit.
OVE develops the above illustrative plan and acquires a CUP for the site.
2014 - Opportunity Village opens in August 2013 and piecemeal development occurs through May 2014.
Following a recommendation by staff, council has since extended the lease through June 1, 2016. 

What do you think about the view of Opportunity Village from above?

Read more about how Opportunity Village came to be and how to start a similar model in your town by picking up a copy of the new book—Tent City Urbanism: From Self-Organized Camps to Tiny House Villages!

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