Tiny houses, big dreams: Hope Village aims to reduce homelessness

Hope Village, a tiny house community, would be built near the corner of McAndrews Rd. & Columbus St. if approved by the Medford city council. (KTVL/Will Maetzold)

MEDFORD, Ore. -- Solving homelessness in Medford is not an easy fix.

But one organization had an idea four years ago. Rogue Retreat's Heather Everett wanted to bring a tiny house community to Medford as a way to give homeless a chance to have a permanent house.

"This is a place for refuge and safety that you can start coming out of survival mode to think about what are your next steps to get into permanent housing," Everett said.

The concept is new to Medford, but not entirely to Oregon. Everett visited Opportunity Village in Eugene for inspiration of Hope Village here. She planned out how she wanted the tiny house community to look and took us on a tour of the site near Columbus Ave. and McAndrews Rd.

"We'll be utilizing a duplex model where two of the units can go back-to-back with a firewall," she said. "It will help utilize the space a little better so we'll be getting eight along the front and six along the back. With a ground cover and pathway running from south to north through the property."

Settling on a location for this village took a long time. Everett and other members of the Jackson County Homeless Task Force looked at other spots across town they thought would work. Some were too expensive and had too many questions about the homeless moving in. Then the city got involved, offering properties that could go towards helping solve homelessness. Some of the sites again had questions from neighbors, causing the village to have more delays.

"For a long time it was kind of hurry up and wait as we talked to different cities and the interesting thing was there wasn't a lot of push back from city planners we talked to," Everett said. "It wasn't a matter of 'no, you can't do that.'"

The city decided on the new location as the best place for Hope Village to go.

Everett and Rogue Retreat put together a detailed list of rules and policies that residents would follow to get support of city council for the site.

"When they very first started it, it was more of just kind of a shelter development and what we challenged them to do was come forward with a plan and case management and they most certainly agreed to that," council member Michael Zarosinski said.

At a public hearing on Thursday, more people spoke out against the village but others spoke about what it would mean to them.

By the end of the meeting, the city council passed the site for Hope Village by a unanimous 6-0 vote, paving the way for the community to open.

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