Hope springs anew for Hope Village

It isn't perfect, but Hope Village appears to be on its way to becoming a reality.

After months of discussion, debate and dashed hopes, the proposal to establish a tiny house community for homeless people was approved by the Medford City Council last week.

The plan calls for a small congregation of tiny houses near the intersection of West McAndrews Road and Columbus Avenue in west Medford. The tiny house designation is apt: The homes are 8-by-10 feet and won't have electricity or plumbing. What they will provide, however, is shelter for people trying to make their way out of homelessness. It would barely put a dent in the area's population of homeless, but it's a start.

That start was not necessarily assured, especially after the city backed off plans to locate Hope Village downtown at Third and Front streets. Opposition from neighboring businesses killed that plan, even as additional low-income housing plans moved forward only a few hundred feet away.

We understand the concerns of the neighbors, but think they were misplaced. Hope Village is not a homeless shelter or a camp. It will be an inexpensive option for providing longer-term transitional housing for people who need a roof over their heads as they look for work, receive treatment and generally get their lives together. Rogue Retreat, the homeless housing program behind the plan, already manages 44 housing units and works closely with the Jackson County Housing Authority to provide homes for people who otherwise would be living out in the elements.

The tiny house community would have rules set by residents intended to ensure the site is safe for them and doesn't become a liability within the neighborhood. That ownership by residents empowers them to see the site as theirs and to do what's necessary to make it work.

Unfortunately, the shift from downtown to the west Medford site moves the residents farther from the sort of goods and services more readily available downtown, although a nearby bus route will help with connections.

Despite that less-ideal location, the City Council and Rogue Retreat deserve credit for sticking with the effort and persevering when roadblocks were raised. The city should, and undoubtedly will, remain engaged with this project, helping bring it to fruition and ensuring that it's meeting its envisioned goals.

Community members can join in as well by donating and volunteering to get the village up and running. See www.rogueretreat.org for more information on how you can help.

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