Editorial: Hope Village has proven its worth; let it expand

Hope Village has been a success since it opened the doors of 14 tiny house units last fall, and organizers want to add 16 more units. We see no reason for the city of Medford to oppose the expansion.

Hope Village, situated on land leased from the city at McAndrews Road and Columbus Avenue, currently houses 17 people in its 14 8-by-10-foot units. The community is fenced and gated, and access is limited to residents and guests, who have to check in and out at the front gate. Residents share chores. The housing units have no plumbing or electricity; restrooms, showers, laundry and cooking facilities are communal. The units are inspected weekly to make sure residents are maintaining them.

Organizers originally proposed establishing the village on a city-owned lot closer to downtown, but neighboring businesses objected and the deal fell through when the lot was sold. The present location has been virtually trouble-free since it opened in October. Medford police say they responded to seven calls for service, one in November, three in January and three in February. All were non-violent incidents such as theft reports or trespassing complaints. And every person staying at Hope Village is one person not camping illegally or sleeping in a doorway.

Most important, the stability the village offers and the services of on-site case managers already have helped some residents move into more permanent housing, and several of those still there are on waiting lists for federally subsidized housing. The case managers also help residents obtain health care and apply for jobs.

Hope Village is intended to be a temporary solution for those who live there, not a permanent home.

The expansion proposal would add 16 units placed between the existing ones, so the overall size of the village would not change. Rogue Retreat Executive Director Chad McComas says the organization intends to cap the population at 40 people in 30 units, so the proposed expansion would be the last in that location.

Rogue Retreat has proven it can operate a tiny house village successfully, and help residents get off the streets and into more stable situations. The city should reward that success by approving the expansion, and beyond that, councilors should be open to more efforts like it in more locations in the future.

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