Tiny village aims to be part of housing access solution in Portland

Homeless

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Street Response launched just over a month ago as a non-police alternative to help people experiencing homelessness and mental health crises.

On Friday, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty met the Portland Street Response team to talk about what more needs to be done.

One major thing on the list of priorities: access to affordable housing.

Community members behind St. John’s Village on Richmond Avenue in Portland hope to be part of the solution.

The City of Portland and Multnomah County’s Joint Office of Homeless Services recently launched St. John’s Village, a transitional pod community that will serve up to 19 people. Folks will start to move in on Monday.

Each pod has a twin-sized bed, heat, a clothing rack and a storage area. There is also a community space with showers and a kitchen.

Residents don’t have to pay rent to stay in the pods but are asked to chip in to help keep the area clean.

“As they obtain permanent housing through our program, we will have people rotating in and we will continue to give them a stable place to work on their case management towards permanent housing,” said Program Manager Tara Benavente.

Benavente said the ultimate goal of the village is to provide a “safe and stable situation where people will have that stability and we can work with them on a one-on-one case management addressing all their barriers towards permanent housing.”

Benavente said folks who are from the area will be prioritized.

“We do a screening, we do an intake packet, we have some interview questions just establishing what are people’s needs and if this would be a good fit,” she said.

Benavente said this village is just one solution to a whole crisis.

“I am a fan of the three tiers of sheltering,” she said. “You have your congregate sheltering, everyone has their cot, then you have transitional sheltering and then permanent supportive housing.”

Benevente also emphasized the importance of stability when trying to find a job or more affordable housing.

“There’s so much instability when you are working towards permanent housing, transitional housing helps, meet that need and serve that purpose and allows to build longer term relationships with these folks,” she said.

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