Thursday, November 19, 2015

Andrew Heben of Square One Villages to speak in Boise

Housing matters: exploring creative shelter and community in a new economy

We're pleased to announce a visit from Andrew Heben, Project & Program Director for SquareOne Villages in Eugene. He will offer a public presentation Thursday, November 19th from 6-8:30pm at the Cathedral of the Rockies, 717 N 11th Street in Boise.

The event is free, but seating is limited. Visit our FaceBook page to RSVP and let us know you plan to attend. Sponsors include the Boise/Ada Homeless Coalition, Boise Co-op, and the Boise Alternative Shelter Cooperative.

If you are unable to view the video at right, click here.

Presentation focus. Eugene is one of many U.S. cities with sizable homeless populations, which has led city and county officials, nonprofits, businesses and even citizens to collaborate on innovative approaches. One such approach is Opportunity Village Eugene, which has received national attention for its social and economic benefits. Andrew will outline the conditions that have inspired this and similar models, the planning, design and collaboration necessary to create a village, and the social component of what is becoming an affordable alternative for those falling though the cracks in our economy and housing market. This is not a forum on Boise's homeless policies.

"A very pragmatic approach that was inspirational to getting people in our community to see what could and should be done."
— Kitty Piercy, mayor of Eugene, OR
Andrew Heben has a background in urban planning and is the author of Tent City Urbanism: From Self-Organized Camps to Tiny House Villages. He has traveled throughout the U.S. to study over a dozen tent cities organized by the homeless, and spent time living at one in Ann Arbor, Michigan known as Camp Take Notice. The book is an expansion of Heben's urban planning thesis at the University of Cincinnati; in a sense it represents an ironic recognition that today's tent cities and homeless camps can in fact be traced to trends in planning and community policing during the 20th century.
"A revolutionary document, a manifesto and manual wrapped in a visionary on-the-ground journey into which the rest of us are invited."
Many of the ideas in his book have been put into action through the co-founding of SquareOne Villages, a Eugene, OR based non-profit organization with a mission of creating tiny house communities for those in need of housing. Their first project was Opportunity Village, which has been open for two years and provides transitional micro-housing to otherwise homeless individuals and couples. They are now moving forward on Emerald Village, which will provide an innovative model in permanent, affordable housing.
"The vision to create a living place of vitality, safety, and human scale is an indomitable urge that likely resides in all people. In fact, history bears out that people create sustainable places and mutual support networks whenever they have access to enough land, resources, and help. That said, Opportunity Village, supported mightily by Andrew Heben, has taken the lead in demonstrating the remarkable inspiring effects and healing power of such a vision in action. The idea that a group of people can undertake democratic processes in such a way that they repair themselves and create a sustainable expression of place will be of interest to everyone." 
Who should attend. Planning and housing professionals, social entrepreneurs, policy makers, social and human service providers, homeless and housing advocates and providers, those with an interest in cooperative shelter and housing models, and media.

Local perspective. Seen though a national lens, the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in Boise is comparatively small. Until cities reach a crisis, they are often reluctant to support alternatives to traditional congregate shelters, tenant-based rental assistance vouchers, or multifamily housing with income- or needs-based eligibility.

In Boise and elsewhere, the number of renters spending more than 30, 40, or even 50 percent of household income is significant, and we currently have a shortage of housing within reach of many individuals and families. According to current figures, housing is out of reach for an estimated 5,700 very low income Boise households. This means many households are living less than a paycheck, injury, illness or divorce from homelessness.

Recent articles in the Idaho Statesman illustrate the need for additional housing options for lower-income households.
The lack of housing diversity in our downtown core has impacts on transportation infrastructure, workforce reliability and air quality as well. Speaking with Idaho Statesman reporter Zach Kyle, local developer Dave Wali and other leaders get this connection.
Downtown workers who cannot afford to live in the city core will increase their impact elsewhere, said [Dave Wali]. “All actions have a reaction,” he said. “It’s more traffic on I-84 and more traffic on State Street. If you live closer to work, you have less impact.”

Read more here:

We need to anticipate and adapt to a changing landscape. As Mayor Bieter correctly pointed out in a recent mayoral candidate forum, " want to fix the roof while the sun shines." We agree; you don't wait until it's raining to fix the roof, and we shouldn't wait until we have double or triple the current number of people on the streets to explore workable housing and shelter alternatives.

We have now entered a new normal.

1 comment:

  1. anyone wanting to learn to build a tiny house can attend this meetup: