The provision of home ownership to homeless people

“Transitional micro- housing” for homeless people

date August 2013

Opportunity Village Eugene (OVE) is a “transitional micro-housing” pilot project that provides micro-housing units to accommodate homelessness in Eugene, Oregon USA. The problem of homelessness is alleviated through this project by the provision of home ownership with basic housing amenities in means of privacy, stability and safety.

The notion of OVE is catalyzed by occupy movement in 2011. The occupy movement concerned with wealth distribution issue, housing problem and banking regulation. There are large numbers of homeless campers join this peaceful protest to express their distress over governmental department and local community. Since then, a special taskforce is established to provide solution for sheltering homeless people. Andrew Heben a young urban planner has come up with the blueprint of micro-housing and organized a board of directors made up of several community leaders for execution of OVE project. In 2012, OVE incorporates as a non-profit organisation.

Nowadays, the OVE accommodates around 35 residents in 30 single or double ‘tiny houses’ of 60 to 80 square feet. Sometimes residents themselves can help to build their own house. Residents in the village share common utilities like kitchen, washrooms and laundry services. Being a resident in OVE, it requires to follow rules set out in community agreement like no violence and illegal action. Everyone must contribute to the village by 8 hours of front desk duty a week and 2 hours of community improvement and shared utilities cleaning per week.

The start- up costs were funded with around USD$98,000 in private cash donations and an estimated USD$114,000 of in-kind materials and labour. Operating costs are around $1,800 per month. If capital costs are amortised over 5 years and similar operating costs are assumed, OVE comes at a cost of USD$3 per night per person. Of which, USD$1 per night is paid or raised by OVE residents.

In 2015, OVE has grown in scale and evolved to SquareOne Villages. It maintains the same mission as OVE to provide low-cost tiny houses for people. Emerald Village Eugene is the next prospective project. Interest from other countries like Victoria in Canada and several Australian cities thinking about to initiate projects with same concept as OVE.