Portland considers building tiny houses for the homeless

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PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — Portland city leaders are considering a plan to build tiny houses for homeless people to help get them off the streets.

The tiny houses would be about 200 square feet and look a lot like the ones at The Caravan Tiny House Hotel in northeast Portland.

Brad Gibson and Karen Timmerman lived on the streets for five years before they found an affordable apartment. But if city leaders get their way, homeless people will have a faster and better option — micro communities.

Michael Withey, who represents Micro Community Concepts, pitched the idea to Portland City Council.

The houses would be built on surplus city lands, and residents would pay rent between $250 and $350 per month. Withey said the project is self-sustaining.

“Half the rents we collect from these homes will go into a fund to fund the next microcommunity that will help the next set of people that need help,” he said.

The tiny homes, however, would need a tiny bit of startup cash – probably in the neighborhood of $1 million. Mayor Charlie Hales’ team said they don’t yet know where it would come from.

“Whether it’s city money, state money or federal money, we’re going to try and get creative and figure out all the places where we can bring money into this to try different kinds of pilots for different kinds of housing needs,” said Josh Alpert, strategic initiatives director.

Gibson and Timmerman fully support the tiny homes as an intermediate step to stability, but they also said it won’t replace emergency homeless camps because “people on the street do need a place to go.”

The concept is still in the very early stages, and the city has formed a task force to examine it. They’ll meet for the first time in two weeks.

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7 comments

  • Oliver

    This is stupid… for $350 you could have a nice place about 50 miles outside of Portland. Why do homeless bums always want to stay in the most expensive real estate in the country? Years ago, I did the math and figured out that for the amount of money being spend on Section 8 Housing in places like San Francisco and New York, many could go to college full time and that includes room and board. This is just stupid. These article talks about a couple that had been on the streets for five years…. ‘five years?’ Just how stupid are these people? Sorry, a cripple with no arms could do a better job than that!

  • Karen

    Either you’re part of the solution or you’re part of the problem. Criticizing Section 8 housing in an article about alternatives to that system makes no sense. You want to send someone 50 miles out of the city to get cheap rent. How many jobs are waiting for them there so they can pay that rent?

    Sounds to me like both of you would rather blame the victim than face the fact that extreme and worsening wealth and income disparity are driving people out of homes, jobs, college and the middle class. Ever heard of the housing crisis? Financial crash? You would rather hate people, wish them out of your sight, than participate in *facing* and solving the problem of poverty, which requires systemic analysis, not blame. People are homeless because they are stupid? Where I live, the median rent (half costs less, half more) where I live is over $3,000/month (http://sf.curbed.com/archives/2014/04/14/are_you_sitting_down_sfs_median_rent_rate_is_3200month.php). That’s $36,000/year – for RENT. Yet, even with the highest minimum wage in the nation (about $11/hour) two people working full-time at minimum wage and sharing an apartment would consume one person’s entire annual income ($22K), and over half the other person’s, on rent alone (and that’s before they pay any taxes!). You name for me one town or city in America with a 0% unemployment rate *or* (I really should say “and” but I’m being generous) a minimum wage enough to buy rent, food, clothes, transportation to and from work, health insurance, and enough to save for a survival retirement, and I’ll accept that this is a problem of individual people, not our system.

    • Deanne

      You tell’em, Karen. I have worked since I was 15, single parent (no child support),earned 2 college degrees. I never made the income the college recruiters said I would. Ended up with a job at Social Services which is barely enough salary to live on. Had a stroke at 51, should be on permanent disability but I can’t who can live off of $900 per month! And I live 30 minutes outside of town!! These elitist really make me mad! We nee Tiny house communities all over the country and not just for homeless people!

  • Ted

    Wow, Karen! I’ts rare to hear a voice of educated reason, especially on these pages. And I agree with you. Nobody goes out intending to be homeless.

  • Honey.21

    No, many would like jobs so they can provide for them self’s, like me,
    but how are we gonna get it if no body will help us get a job?
    i personally submitted more than 100++ job applications and plus i checked in everyday, dressed nice too. been homeless for 6 years i am 21 now i do not have a drug or beer problem i am clean and fuckin sober.
    had manners like business rich ass people but still no luck and this fuckin shit brings me down so i give up hope, thank you rich ass fucked up society.

    • yol

      ^dude if you’ve put in 100++ job apps and you havent received any responses, you need to take a long hard look at the situation and figure out what youre doing wrong. if a felon can work at a pizza joint so can you.

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