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Medford can be proud of Hope Village

Don’t look now, but Medford is at the forefront of one effort to address homelessness in Oregon.

Not generally regarded as a trail-blazer when it comes to civic innovations, our fair city played host on Thursday to mayors of 40 communities around the state who came for a tour of Hope Village, the 30-unit tiny-house development that offers temporary shelter to homeless people looking for help getting off the street and into permanent housing.

Hope Village started in November 2017 with 14 units, each 8 feet by 10 feet, plus a communal kitchen, laundry and shower facilities. Operating under a one-year agreement with the city, Hope Village proved its worth, and in less than year, the City Council approved doubling the size of the village and signed a new, two-year agreement with Rogue Retreat, the nonprofit organization that operates the project.

Medford city officials didn’t create the project. The city didn’t build the units and doesn’t operate the village. But city leaders supported the concept from the beginning, offering a city-owned property near downtown.

When neighboring businesses and other property owners objected to that location, it could have spelled the end of the project. But Rogue Retreat persevered, and the city continued to offer encouragement, culminating in a new location near the city shops off McAndrews Road. Hope Village now sits on property owned by the city and another property leased by Rogue Retreat, and its success has attracted attention.

Medford is one of only three Oregon cities with tiny house projects for the homeless. The others are Portland and Eugene.

Mayors touring Hope Village on Thursday came from cities including Grants Pass, Coquille and Canby.

We’ve made this point before, but it bears repeating: The problem of homelessness has many causes, and those without shelter have a variety of needs. There is no single solution that will address all of those causes and meet all of those needs. But every undertaking — from warming shelters in winter to tiny house villages year-round — contributes in part to reducing the number of people who are struggling to survive without a roof over their heads.

Medford city officials can be proud of being part of one such effort.