We're called to do something...

Last year 58% of the 5,500 visitors who came to the Next Step Community Resource Drop-In Center were homeless.

In 2018, 318 non-duplicated homeless men, women, and children have visited our Drop-In Center - right here in Monroe.

In Monroe, as in most places in America, being homeless is a crime - there is no place you can legally set up your tent.

Our favorite tiny house village is Opportunity Village in Eugene, Oregon.

Dan Bryant, Executive Director of SquareOne Villages Eugene, tells the story of Opportunity Village in the Dream Big video below. He explains why micro-house villages make so much sense, and shares what a difference a safe place for yourself and your belongings can make in the life of a homeless person.

You will be inspired!

Also watch a PBS Report on Opportunity Village →

Why Micro-House Villages Work

When you're homeless, there is no margin in your life for the future. Your entire day is filled by just surviving...where will you sleep, what will you eat, will you be safe?

When you have a safe place to sleep every night, a safe place to store your belongings, and a supportive community, you begin to have space in your life so that you can begin to take your next steps. 

The Rules:

Most villages are self-governing communities that rely upon a few simple rules and they're usually much tougher on themselves than we would be:

  1. No violence to yourselves or others
  2. No theft
  3. No alcohol, illegal drugs, or drug paraphernalia
  4. No weapons (including knives with blades over 4”)
  5. No persistent, disruptive behavior
  6. Everyone contributes to the operation and maintenance of the Village.

When you're part of a community, you become accountable to others, you have responsibilities for regular work and chores within the community, and you are empowered to have a say in the future and direction of your community. All of that contributes to an increasing sense of self-worth and begins the process of transitioning to employment and permanent housing.

Why Micro-Houses Make Sense

A typical low income apartment unit will cost in the $150,000 - 200,000 range to construct - for one unit!

Opportunity Village with its 30 micro-homes in Eugene was funded with about $100,000 in cash donations and an additional $115,000 in donated materials and labor. 

Spreading the initial costs out over five years, it takes about $3 per person per day to run the Village - residents pay or raise $1 of that, work ten hours a week in the Village, and participate in weekly self-governing community meetings.

In its first two years,

  • 85 people transitioned through Opportunity Village’s community
  • 55 went into permanent housing
  • half of those found jobs that allow them to pay market rate rents

Visit the SquareOne Villages website to learn more →

Get Involved

You can be a part of exploring a micro-house community for our homeless neighbors here in Monroe:

Read our favorite books!

Andrew Heben traveled around the United States to visit and live in tent cities and tiny house villages as part of his Masters Degree in Urban Planning. This book is the result of his work. It's a great read and full of helpful information.

Available at Amazon.com

Two sociologist ethnographers spend time with the homeless of Birmingham, Alabama; living on the streets to discover that many of the programs and policies we have to in place to help the homeless actually drive them further from the services they need. Their examination of the causes and consequences of homelessness are revealing and thought provoking...our current systems only mask the symptoms and cannot bring an end to homelessness.

Available at Amazon.com

Resources and Case Studies

“When you’re homeless, when you wake up in the morning, the first thought you have is, ‘Where am I going to sleep tonight?’ if you even slept the night before. Or, ‘Where am I going to go to the bathroom at? Where will I take a shower at?’ And so you spend your entire day focused on that. How do you get a job when you can’t take a shower and you don’t have somewhere to sleep at? You’re walking around with your stuff when you are homeless. 
You try to stay invisible; at least if you’re smart you stay invisible.
And so you spend your entire day...and all your energy just surviving.”
Homeless 58 year old woman

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Opportunity Eugene: A Community Task Force on Homelessness Final Report and Recommendations
In 2012, the Mayor of Eugene OR appointed 58 people to a task force on Homelessness. This is their final report. It describes their process, meeting with concerned citizens, businesses, neighbors, first responders and city officials.  

Transitional Micro-Housing at Opportunity Village Eugene
A case study describing the permitting process, project details and background, the design/build process and cost/benefit analysis. From: http://www.ecobuilding.org/

Providing for the Unhoused: A Review of Transitional Housing Strategies in Eugene
An exhaustive study by the Community Planning Workshop of the University of Oregon looking at a wide range of strategies employed to address homelessness in Eugene OR. A wealth of information on understanding homelessness causes and barriers, city ordinances, case studies for several tent city and micro-house villages, and recommendation.

SquareOne Villages | Village Case Study Matrix
An overview of information for seven micro-house villages around the country including zoning, ,operating costs, building size and cost and more.