Members of the Creating Housing Coalition snuck out of the Samaritan Health Services Delivery System Transformation Committee last Thursday night, closed the door quietly and screamed.
“I hope people weren’t scared, but, yes, we screamed,” said coalition president Stacey Bartholomew.
The group had just learned it was being awarded $67,000 in grant funds to move forward with their project: housing homeless individuals in Albany by building a village of about 25 tiny homes.
“The funds are for startup programs to help create better health,” Bartholomew said. “We’re doing that by creating housing.”
The Delivery System Transformation pilot grant will help the group get the project further off the ground from where it’s already hovering with a partnership with Habitat for Humanity and CHANCE — a mid-valley organization that provides peer support for homeless people and those experiencing addiction — and Eugene-based nonprofit SquareOne Villages, which has already completed a tiny-home village and is working on a second.
No location has been announced for the project, but the group previously noted that it was in conversations with the school district and an area church.
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“The money is going to go towards our promotional material,” Bartholomew said. “Our website, site plan, all that good stuff. It will also pay for training.”
The trainer has yet to be identified, but training is a major part of the eventual village's foundation. They call it peer support and restorative justice, two systems that will be used by village residents to deal with conflicts within the village and other issues that may arise. CHANCE currently operates under a peer-support model that utilizes individuals who have experienced homelessness and addiction rather than licensed counselors. Restorative justice is used in school districts throughout Oregon and is based in conversation. For example, when two students have a disagreement, they’re brought together and led through a conversation to find a resolution.
Construction of the village, the coalition said, is Phase II. The grant is to pay for Phase I, which is aimed at earning community support, wrangling logistics and raising funds.
“The next step is to have our first fundraiser,” Bartholomew said, noting the group hoped to hold it in January to coincide with the annual point-in-time count, an event managed by volunteers who dispatch in counties statewide to count the homeless in the area.
“We want to hold it with the point-in-count so we can emphasize the need,” Bartholomew said.