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

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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.


  • nateog

    I like this idea, but more thought needs to go into it. For example, maybe having to go live in a shelter first and make sure they are making money to pay the rent. This assumes people are homeless because they can’t afford a home, when that is really only part of the issue.

    • Robbie

      I agree with you. Many homeless are mentally ill and just choose to live on the street. There is a great deal of liability they’ll have to deal with. I like that the city is concerned and hope they find a suitable solution.

  • Priscilla Eatmon

    I think this would be better spent on people who can’t afford traditional housing but are working but not the homeless. There are reasons people are homeless typically as mentioned above mental illness is one reason. Obviously they would need to be able to sustain a lifestyle. Not saying all homeless can’t but I am sure this is going to need some serious screening otherwise it is a waste of tax-payer money.

  • Ken

    People are homeless because of the choices they made in life. I have known some homeless people. They have wronged their family & friends. Everyone has friends or family. When you burn bridges, you can’t go back.

  • John

    I think this is great!!! For people with 600 a mo from SS leaves them 250 for food and bus fares to a part time job that a lot of people need when they retire. I’ve live in Portland in the 70-80’s and I would guess the people behind this are friendly hippies of that era. Way to go Portland. Maybe some of them can work at the prefab plant they builds these buildings.

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