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Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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6/20/2017 3:57:00 PM
WATCH: Thanks to Catholic Charities, new tiny houses development opens
Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel
Kat Kelly of Catholic Charities exits a tiny house at Kenton Village during preparation for the arrival of 14 homeless women. The grouping of homes includes a shared kitchen and bathroom. The Kenton Neighborhood Association was involved in planning.

Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel

Kat Kelly of Catholic Charities exits a tiny house at Kenton Village during preparation for the arrival of 14 homeless women. The grouping of homes includes a shared kitchen and bathroom. The Kenton Neighborhood Association was involved in planning.

Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel
The small houses have no electricity or plumbing, but are a step up from life on the streets. 

Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel

The small houses have no electricity or plumbing, but are a step up from life on the streets. 


Ed Langlois
Of the Catholic Sentinel


With Catholic Charities of Oregon guiding the project, 14 formerly homeless women moved into a village of tiny houses June 10 in North Portland. 

“It makes a difference to be able to say, ‘This is my place,’” said Desiree Rose, who lives at a similar grouping on city land a few miles away. Organizers of Kenton Village asked Rose to give advice on the new project, one of four in the city.  

“I hope [residents] get the peace and the rest they need,” said Rose, a U.S. Army veteran who once lived in a camp on the Springwater Corridor. “Then I am really hoping they band together and create a sisterhood and find ways they can contribute to the neighborhood so they can show that they can be a real force for good.” 

The mobile huts, none with more than 100 square feet of floor space, sit in a semicircle on city-owned industrial land not far from the Columbia River. A larger trailer is a fully equipped kitchen and another holds showers and toilets. Tanks the size of compact cars hold water. If the land gets developed someday, the whole village can move. 

Deacon Richard Birkel, executive director of Catholic Charities, says the fenced-in and tidy village is about safety and moving forward. The hope, he explains, is that women will find permanent housing rapidly, take advantage of services and locate jobs. Staff will be on the site, but residents will act together to govern themselves.  

“While this project may not be the biggest and flashiest transitional housing in the city, it may very well be the most creative application of what we know about moving people who are unhoused on a pathway back to stable housing,” Deacon Birkel said, adding, “God bless the good people of Kenton.”

The project involved many partners, including the Portland State University School of Architecture, where students designed the tiny houses, which have neither electricity nor plumbing. The Village Coalition, a group that advocates for the simple little homes, played a key role. Multnomah County, the City of Portland and the Kenton Neighborhood Association teamed up. 

“If we are going to succeed, it’s because we’ve brought together new people, new ideas and new energy,” said Deborah Kafoury, chairwoman of the Multnomah County Commissioners. “Thank you to the Kenton neighborhood for saying, ‘Yes, in my back yard.’”

edl@catholicsentinel.org

 







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