They all hope the village will be a template “for the kind of thing we can do as a city going forward,” Ritchie said Wednesday.
“We’re trying something that’s never been done here before,” he said. “There are lots of moving parts with this. … We know we will probably hit some speed bumps, and we will deal with them immediately when we do.”
No formal agreements have been signed yet, but all partners are committed to making it happen, Silver said. Clark County will provide the majority of funding for operations, which are expected to be between $200,000 to $250,000, he said.
That figure doesn’t include building materials and construction. Silver said he hoped the community would donate the estimated $40,000 needed to build the tiny houses, given the recent outpouring of concern about street homelessness and the lack of shelter space to house everyone.
The Council for the Homeless will select the village’s tenants. Church groups will serve hot meals every night. (Food can’t be prepared on site because there isn’t a commercial kitchen.) Council for the Homeless will contract with Consumer Voices Are Born, a mental health agency, to provide peer-to-peer support at the village, which will have a full-time manager living on the site in a trailer to enforce strict rules.
“We want to do everything we can to help these people to gain a footing in life and move forward,” Ritchie said.
The site is bordered by 82nd Avenue, which dead ends into an apartment complex. It was chosen because it’s close to a hospital, a bus line and shopping, said Ritchie, who emphasized it would be “a nice place.” The sod will be stripped and the ground covered with a weed barrier and gravel. The lumpy earthen berms bordering the camp will be shaved down and covered in bark dust. The village will have off-street parking for residents and service personnel.
The church is allowing the village on its property because “we just saw a need and saw the opportunity to do something of benefit for the community,” Pastor David Edwards of Safe Harbor church said Thursday. “But we don’t want a homeless camp.”
The village will be for vulnerable people who need a leg up, he said.
“We’re not equipped to deal with the chronic homeless, the mentally ill or the drug culture. We will insist on some rules of behavior,” said Edwards, whose congregation of about 60 members was established in 1952. “Part of our rules is we reserve the right to remove somebody … if they don’t follow the rules.”
Out of consideration for neighbors, steps are being taken to ensure the village is attractive, neat and clean, Ritchie said. The meeting and dining trailers will be positioned to shield the temporary houses, which will be set back more than 100 feet from the street.
Want to Help?
The Council for the Homeless is trying to raise $40,000 for building materials for tiny houses for the homeless. To donate money, send a check to Council for the Homeless, 2500 Main St., Vancouver, WA 98660. Write “tiny houses” on the memo line. Donations also can be made online at www.councilforthehomeless.org/donate.
Once the building materials are purchased, volunteers will be needed to assemble the tiny houses. Organizers also are seeking churches willing to serve nightly hot meals to tenants of the tiny village after it opens. They’re also hoping someone might donate a food cart, which would provide the village with a commercial kitchen for food preparation. Anyone interested in helping is asked to contact Bill Ritchie at firstname.lastname@example.org.