Opportunity Village? Eugene Tries Tiny Houses, Self-Governance

opportunity villageIt’s not just Albany we Corvallisites may want to grab some hints from—our neighbors to the south are also having some success. Eugene’s Opportunity Village has been so successful that the city council didn’t just re-up, they’re doubling-down.

Opportunity Village’s mission is to create self-managed communities of low-cost tiny houses for those in need of housing. These tiny houses are not heated, but they provide a safe, warmish place to sleep and keep your belongings. The community forms citizen-driven initiatives that help to positively change attitudes, policies, and practices that affect people without homes. The village also works with the surrounding communities to create a secure, stable place for low-income and homeless residents. They believe in self-governance and management, and all residents of the village must abide by community agreements.

Some people may be skeptical of this project, but in the last year the police have only been called a few times, and it has been so successful that plans are in the works for a newer, more permanent village, with heated houses, called Emerald Village. This village will address the growing need for collateral in homeless communities. Residents will pay a low rent each month. A portion of this rent will be set aside for when the resident is ready to move to an apartment or house and needs the ability to get a loan, or pay rent. This will allow residents to move out of what seems to be a vicious cycle of homelessness. Time will tell how effective the village will be, but for now, it seems like a winning idea.

 So far in Corvallis, the idea of such villages has been met with groans from neighborhood groups and zoning, but with a growing need, maybe open hands would be better.

By Kyra Young