Hope Village's first residents no longer have to worry about where they'll sleep.
Tuesday was "key day" at Rogue Retreat's "tiny duplex" community, freeing 20 handpicked homeless residents to stay in 14 shed-like structures in the 700 block of West McAndrews Road.
The city of Medford issued Hope Village a temporary certificate of occupancy Tuesday following a fire inspection that morning and building inspection Monday, according to Rogue Retreat Operations Director Heather Hassett, who said some minor issues cited by building inspectors were simple to fix.
For example, in order for the community bathroom to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, Rogue Retreat needs Braille signs.
"We've got to order one of those," Hassett said.
Riding his bike with his dog Mr. Peabody in a handlebar basket, new resident Trinidad Flores said he already felt at home, as did Mr. Peabody.
"I opened up the door and he just laid down," Flores said.
The insulated structures don't have heat or electricity, but Rogue Retreat Executive Director Chad McComas said the transitional shelters offer protection from the elements, a locking door and an address — basics that some of the homeless residents have lacked for years.
Flores had been waiting for his place at Hope Village since he stayed last winter at the Kelly Warming Shelter operated out of First United Methodist Church in Medford, according to Hassett.
Flores said he was "starting to get discouraged" but was grateful he'd waited it out for a chance to work with on-site case managers.
Though the homeless residents have a place to stay, trailers that will provide a kitchen, bathrooms and showers are still in the certification process, Hassett said, calling it a "whole other building process." The lack of available stoves means all meals must be microwavable in the interim. The community building has electricity.
The donated kitchen trailer was built in California and has been out of use for several years. In order for approval for use in Oregon, it needs a specific type of hood vent, according to Hassett. The bathroom trailer that will provide extra showers needs a plan review and a plumbing inspection.
"All of those inspections come out of Salem, they don't come out of Medford," Hassett said, adding that it's "more complicated than we expected."
Hope Village, which drew inspiration from Eugene's similar Opportunity Village, will pair people who've shown efforts and interest in transitioning out of homelessness with on-site life skills classes and case managers. Though Hope Village residents don't have set time limits in the community, Hassett said the goal is to transition those residents to other, more permanent Rogue Retreat housing programs within six months.
— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.