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Tiny Homes for the homeless

Andretta Schellinger, left, and Jessica Richelderfer Wheeler stand in an area along the Columbia River where homeless have camped. They would like to established a Tiny Home village as an alternative.

Photo by Derek Wiley
Andretta Schellinger, left, and Jessica Richelderfer Wheeler stand in an area along the Columbia River where homeless have camped. They would like to established a Tiny Home village as an alternative.



photo

Railroad tracks and a freeway underpass mark another area sometimes used by those who are homeless and seeking shelter. Legal shelter would be a better option for everyone, argue Andretta Schellinger, left, and Jessica Richelderfer Wheeler.

An effort by two women to create a tiny-home village for the homeless in The Dalles all started with a complaint on Facebook...

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Comments

Economist 2 years, 1 month ago

I have volunteered for a homeless shelter in Vancouver, Washington and I have been around homeless people often in my life. I have read a book about how best to help homeless people and I have some ideas to consider.

First, an evaluation of the type of homeless person needs to be made within the first 48 hours. It's okay to provide no-questions-asked meals and shelter for a day. But by the end of day number two, the person needs to be interviewed. The reason for this is simple. There are limited resources available to help the homeless in any community. These have to be used wisely.

Types of homeless people (a partial list) - battered women (sometimes battered men), with or without children, who need a safe place to stay for a few days, runaway teens, convicted felons who haven't been able to become employed, veterans (and other people) with PTSD who haven't been able stay employed, developmentally disabled people, mentally ill people, alcoholics, drug addicts (especially meth and heroin), fugitives from justice, bums (people who refuse to obtain employment) and so on.

Second, after the type of homeless person has been identified, effort needs to be made to connect the person with community resources such as WorkSource, DHS and CAPS. If an unaccompanied child is involved, he or she needs to be referred to Child Protective Services for placement in a foster home. There is no other way for children not accompanied by at least one parent.

Third, all efforts need to be toward making the homeless person independent / less dependent. This usually means the homeless person has to become employed. But, he or she may also rely on EBT (food stamps), food banks and other community resources. If employment isn't an option, then SSI or other assistance should be sought. Eventually he or she needs to be placed in a subsidized apartment, possibly with one or two roommates.

Fourth, the homeless person needs to be encouraged to contribute somehow to his or her betterment. This can mean preparing meals, sweeping up the parking lot, taking out the trash, cleaning gutters, painting, or any of hundreds of other jobs that all need to be done. The more the homeless person contributes, the better his or her self esteem.

Fifth, if ownership is a possibility, then arranging for the homeless person to purchase his or her "tiny home" or travel trailer is a better solution than renting those. The space on which the tiny home or trailer resides may be rented.

Sixth, the tiny homes and/or trailers have to be located within walking distance of employment opportunities, community resources and grocery stores. Having the homes out in the country will almost certainly result in permanent dependency.

Seventh, if only free meals and shelter are offered it will be no time at all before the word spreads and hundreds more homeless people from Portland and elsewhere move to The Dalles.

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