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A tiny home of their own; Portland ponders plan for homeless

Posted at 2:06 PM, Aug 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-26 14:07:24-04

Portland, OR (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.