April 21, 2021 – A year after the City of Corvallis implemented code updates to allow microshelters, Community Development staff have found that significant opportunities remain for private property owners interested in contributing to this community-based housing solution. A total of 26 individual microshelters on four separate sites have been constructed in Corvallis and Benton County in the program’s first year. All existing sites are hosted by churches, and opportunity exists to expand to different site locations.
Microshelters are small structures that can be placed on a non-residential property to provide temporary, emergency shelter on a short-term basis. Social services providers have advocated for microshelters as a powerful tool for addressing the challenges of homelessness.
In 2020, the City Council approved a pilot project to ease restrictions and speed the approval process for microshelters to address this critical community need. Funding in the amount of $255,000 was provided to a social services coalition to build microshelters and put them into service to assist members of the houseless community. Benton County funded two case manager positions to support microshelter these deployments and help them move forward quickly.
“At the City Council’s direction, we moved quickly to cut red tape and create conditions for this pilot program to be a success,” said Community Development Director Paul Bilotta. “The City is seeking additional site partners to help expand the microshelter program.”
Microshelters can be installed in partnership with property owners in non-residential areas within City limits. Potential site partners include many businesses, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, healthcare providers, and industrial owners, which are all eligible to explore installing microshelters through the City’s expedited review process to help support people experiencing homelessness in our community.
The City’s microshelter approval program is based on a longstanding car and RV parking program that has been used successfully throughout Corvallis for over a decade. To host a microshelter, site hosts are required to meet safety and livability requirements which are described in the application.
The goal of this pilot project is to provide flexibility within the City’s various codes to create the conditions for the community to step up and offer solutions. An ideal outcome would see microshelters dispersed on sites throughout all neighborhoods in Corvallis, which encourages geographic equity and ensures that one or two neighborhoods aren’t bearing an outsized responsibility for the deployment of this housing tool.
For more information on applying to host a microshelter, please visit www.corvallisoregon.gov/microshelters.