By Kerry J. Byrne
May 15, 2021 | 8:26pm | Updated
A group of Oakland residents developed a creative way to attack the city’s burgeoning housing crisis. They built their own “community center” at a homeless encampment beneath a highway overpass.
Called Cob on the Wood, the working village includes the basics of home, such as toilet, shower and kitchen, plus a health clinic and small store, The San Jose Mercury News reported.
“It’s sort of like a little oasis in the middle of nowhere that makes you feel like maybe you’re normal again,” John Janosko, who lives in a trailer in the encampment, told the paper, which described the development “like something out of a fairy tale.”
One publication describes an idyllic setting:
“Winding stone pathways connect the structures and are bordered by little gardens of herbs, greens, and flowers. The kitchen has a stove, sink with running water, shelving full of bread and a refrigerator full of food. Herbs and emergency medical supplies fill the clinic. The shower’s water runs hot.”
Amenities reportedly include pizza oven, fire pit and open mic nights.
The village challenges local regulations, zoning laws, health ordinances and safety issues.
The Oakland city auditor in April released a report that highlighted a litany of problems that plague the city’s estimated 140 homeless communities, including: 1,599 interventions for “hygiene and garbage services” from 2018 to 2020, 1,458 police calls and 988 fires over the same period.
Cob on the Wood advocates hope the village mitigates many of those problems.
“This place and what we created can serve as a model for other encampments across Oakland, across the nation and across the world,” Xochitl Bernadette Moreno, co-founder and director of the grassroots group Essential Food and Medicine, told the Mercury News.
Her group helped build Cob on the Wood with two other activist organizations, Living Earth Structures and Artists Building Communities.
by: Timothy Young
FREDERICK, Md (WDVM) – Activists and the homeless pitched tents this weekend right on the front lawn of Frederick’s City hall. They say by camping there, local officials can’t ignore the problem.
Kristen Lundy with Frederick United said recent construction projects, have driven many homeless people out of their “tent cities” with nowhere to go. That’s when she decided to organize participants to camp out on the lawn,
“We want them to have a sanitary place to go where they can get showers, where they can eat, and get actual care,” she said.
On Sunday, Mayor Michael O’Connor and other officials interacted with the group, trying to find a solution.
“We’re hearing what you’re saying and we’re trying to provide a response,” O’Connor told the group. “… If these were easy problems to solve, there would be communities that have solved them. And I will tell you, no community has solved this problem.”
The group compiled a list of demands to improve the quality of life for the homeless.
The list included the creation of a designated campground, plans for rapid rehousing, and the treatment, not criminalization, of homelessness.
“We also demand that our city officials recognize the homeless community as their constituents,” Co-Founder of Global Necessity Talia Ramey said. “Your community is watching, and elections are coming up.”
Richard Thomas Sherry Jr. says he’s been homeless “on and off” for about 18 years and set up camp at city hall. He said he was kicked out of his previous camp located in a field downtown.
“[Housing] is only a human right to some people, but it’s not a human right to other people,” he said. “Because they consider the other people not human.”
Lundy said with pandemic restrictions loosening, local shelter capacity in the area will increase, but she has no issue camping at City Hall again if nothing is done in the long term.
A tiny home village in the Puyallup Valley welcomed its first four residents the week of May 10 and soon will be home to dozens of Washington's homeless veterans.
The Orting Veterans Village, built on the grounds of the Washington Soldier's Home, will house 35 homeless veterans at full capacity. COVID-19 mitigation efforts have caused the move-in process to slow down.
Jaycie Osterberg of Quixote Communities, the group in charge of the project, says they hope to move in about five residents per week.
"With hundreds of homeless veterans in Pierce County alone, we are thrilled to be able to provide permanent supportive housing to some of the homeless men and women who have served our country," Osterberg said.
A 2019 count of the people experiencing homelessness in Pierce County found that at least 9%, or about 134 people, were veterans.
Residents are not required to get a COVID-19 vaccination in order to move in but will get tested for the virus. Osterberg said the nonprofit will work to make sure any resident who wants a COVID-19 vaccine is able to get one.
Quixote Communities is no stranger to the tiny home village concept, with a similar community in Olympia and another in the works in Shelton. Osterberg said most residents stay in a village for about three years, and for most that is the longest they've spent in one place. She said the tiny home villages provide residents with permanent housing and a fulfilling sense of community.
Each resident of the veteran's village gets a 180-square-foot tiny home and access to a 2,500-square-foot community center. The community center houses the village's kitchen and dining area, recreational area and the staff's office.
The homes come with a living space and a bathroom with a private shower — an upgrade from Quixote Communities' existing village in Olympia. Most of the items in the homes, including linens, beds, desks, chairs and Instant Pots were donated to Quixote Communities. Osterberg said support from local businesses has been instrumental in putting the finishing touches on the homes.
The village will provide housing to homeless veterans who live in Pierce County. They must go through a background check and drug-screening process. Potential residents cannot have outstanding warrants or a recent history of violence.
Residents are admitted to the village through a need-based list, meaning higher-risk veterans will be higher on the list.
The $4.7 million to fund the Orting village was provided to Quixote Communities from the Washington State Housing Trust Fund, Pierce County, the Federal Home Loan Bank, the United Way and the Housing Authority of Pierce County.
Although Quixote Communities is leading the project, Osterberg credited the Puget Sound Veterans Hope Center for developing the idea.
"They have a 10-bed sleeping area specifically for homeless veterans but really wanted to create a permanent housing situation for them," Osterberg said.
Because the Veterans Hope Center is entirely volunteer-run, it handed over the idea to Quixote Communities. But at the grand opening of the village on May 25, the group will present its first annual recognition award to Veterans Hope Center president, Larry Geringer.
by Maria Serrano | News Channel 3
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A former Kalamazoo motel that housed more than 60 homeless individuals for several months was set to undergo renovations with a May 15, 2021, deadline for residents to move out.
“This is no surprise. This is not last minute. This has been communicated on a daily basis,” David Anderson, the mayor of Kalamazoo, said.
Anderson was also a board member of the Lift Foundation, a permanent housing developer, the director of housing & facilities for Integrated Services of Kalamazoo, and the public mental health authority for Kalamazoo County.
Several residents who were moving out of the former Knights Inn motel said they wanted to remain anonymous, but revealed their plans. They said some homeless individuals were moving from the former motel to what they called, “Tent City,” or the Ampersee encampment.
Yancy Barrett had been living at the encampment for over three months.
“There are still cold nights,” Barrett said.
He has a dog and said he ended up living there after his house caught on fire. Barrett said in the last two days, he’s seen more people than usual.
“They just need to come up with something better, they’re giving false hope. I mean you can’t just give somebody a three-month stay in a hotel and put them right back in the street,” Barrett said. “That’s what I see.”
“I would say they’re mostly not up in the air, so I would push back on that,” Anderson said.
Anderson said the former motel was only a temporary housing solution and it would be renovated to create 60 studio apartments.
“We saw that if we were able to purchase this motel in January, which we did, that we could provide temporary harm reduction moteling,” Anderson said.
Anderson said out of the 67 who were staying at the former Knights Inn Motel, eight individuals did not end up with a permanent housing location.
“Those numbers are pretty good in my mind,” Anderson said.
He said some people were not in a position to accept the help offered.
“They are choosing a situation where they are going to at least temporarily be outside, but we are not giving up on that relationship,” Anderson said.
Steven Potts who has been homeless for about three years said his short stay at the motel was helpful.
“My ID came in the mail, which was one of my goals while I was there, birth certificate, social security card, and a voucher,” Potts said.
Potts said he’s moving within the next two weeks to a place he called home.
Anderson said there is still a fundraising gap on renovations. If it’s filled in December 2021, permanent housing would be available where the former Knights Inn Motel was.
In the meantime, Anderson said people could take advantage of temporary situations like the Gospel Mission.
Nevada Cares Campus officially opens as city plans homeless camp sweeps https://thisisreno.com/2021/05/nevada-cares-campus-officially-opens-as-city-plans-homeless-camp-sweeps/ via @thisisreno
PERRY: Now ‘Hopeless Mike’ pitches a failed camping ban to scatter the tents of homeless people https://sentinelcolorado.com/opinion/now-hopeless-mike-pitches-a-failed-camping-ban-to-scatter-the-tents-of-homeless-people/ via @SentinelColo
Homeless man set on fire with lighter fluid, robbed outside Florida gas station https://www.kiro7.com/news/trending/homeless-man-set-fire-with-lighter-fluid-robbed-outside-florida-gas-station/T7FU64BYT5AF7HY4PKDCCAN4FI/
Austin designated homeless encampments: Here’s why some sites will likely be cut from the list https://www.kxan.com/news/local/austin/austin-designated-homeless-encampments-heres-why-some-sites-will-likely-be-cut-from-the-list/
Portland announces “a more assertive approach” to dispersing homeless encampments https://www.opb.org/article/2021/05/19/portland-oregon-homeless-encampments/
Homeless Sweeps Start Next Week In Portland https://www.kxl.com/homeless-sweeps-start-next-week-in-portland/
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