The Medford City Council appears poised to give final approval to what is now an expanded tiny house project for the homeless. Councilors should do everything they can to help organizers get to opening day.
The project already has cleared multiple obstacles, and now faces some new ones, the result of a last-minute expansion beyond the development's original scope.
Hope Village, a collection of 14 tiny houses, originally was proposed for a city-owned lot at the corner of Third and Front streets, but objections from neighboring property owners stalled the project. Rogue Retreat, the nonprofit agency behind the project, then leased city-owned land at Columbus Avenue and West McAndrews Road.
Then supporters leased three adjacent properties, including one that contains a house to be used as a welcome center. That complicated matters because the expanded size of the project exceeded the limits of the original agreement with the city.
On top of that, the house must be converted from a septic system to a hookup to city sewer because of the change of use, and city rules normally would require a planned parking lot to be paved and landscaped. The sewer conversion will add $25,000 to the project's costs, and other expenses have boosted the overall price tag by more than $100,000. A new state grant will help cover some of that increased cost.
City officials have agreed to waive the paving requirement. If the sewer conversion expense would mean more delay, perhaps the city could agree to allow Hope Village to open anyway, with a commitment that the work will be done as soon as funds allow.
Hope Village was scheduled to open last winter. The need is immediate.
This project won't solve the problem of homelessness by itself. But it is a positive step that could show the value of providing rudimentary shelter to at least some of those who need it. If Hope Village is a success, it could lead to similar projects in the future.
The City Council should give this project as much support as possible.