ONTARIO, OR — A unique program in Ontario is offering people experiencing homelessness a safe place to stay while they look for work or other services. The pilot program launched last year and has already helped 38 families find “step-up” housing.
The 16 tiny homes behind the Origins Faith Community Outreach initiative building in Ontario provide the residents with free access to services from the nonprofit Community in Action and Origins Faith, while they live there.
“That varies again from step-up housing, to live in an apartment, to transitional housing, to be reunited with family members, so actively working on case plans,” said Priscilla Garcia housing program manager for Community in Action
The tiny shelters are equipped with cots, sleeping bags, a microwave, and a fridge. According to the nonprofit's data, 90% of the residents are adults and 10% are children. 77% are non-Hispanic Latino and 13% are Hispanic Latinos
Organizes said the program has been a success.
“We have quite a few who have become employed, we have quite a few that now have health insurance,” said Heather Echeveste, Executive Director of Origins Faith Community Outreach Initiative. "Of course there have been a small number of people who have had to leave the program due to noncompliance. In five months time, for only 4 people not to follow their work plan to the point that they're asked to leave the program is pretty impressive. So the people that are currently staying there have been able to transition into more permanent supportive housing, it shows how hard they're really working."
The program only runs through wintertime and Garcia said Oregon lawmakers passed a new bill this session that could allow the program to expand.
“It’s House Bill 2006. How that applies to us is that it’s stating that any existing emergency shelter, whether it’s tiny homes. If was only supposed to be temporary, it passed through legislation that we’re able to keep that open long term as long as funding allows and meets basic homeless shelter requirements which tiny homes do,” Garcia said. “So right now me, Heather, and my director are working towards a plan to see how much longer we can keep this going with funding.”