PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Faced with an intractable homeless problem, officials in Portland are thinking inside the box.
A handful of homeless families will soon move into tiny, government-constructed modular units in the backyards of willing homeowners. Under the pilot program taking effect this summer, the homeowners will take over the heated, fully plumbed tiny houses in five years and can use them for rental income.
The project, called A Place for You, is believed to be the first in the nation to recruit stable residents to address a homeless crisis that’s gotten so bad the city last year declared a state of emergency and made it legal to sleep on the street.
Portland has an affordable rental shortage of 24,000 units and nearly 4,000 people sleep on the street, in a shelter or in transitional housing each night. Residents just passed a $260 million housing bond, but it will be two years before those units are ready, said Mary Li, director of Multnomah County’s new Idea Lab, which developed the concept.