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Tiny homes donated to Rogue Retreat

Steven Woody beamed with delight when he got a glimpse of his new tiny house, one of 10 donated to help homeless people in Jackson County.

“I feel like a human being again,” the 63-year-old Navy veteran said Friday.

Pallet, a Washington-based company, donated the tiny houses valued at $68,000 to the urban campground off Biddle Road in Medford, run by the local nonprofit Rogue Retreat.

“To be able to keep what you’ve got without worrying about somebody stealing it is a big deal,” Woody said.

Suffering from various ailments, including lingering problems from getting hit by a baseball bat in 2017, Woody — along with other seniors and people with medical conditions — will be the first to occupy the tiny houses.

Rogue Retreat will be replacing 10 of the 40 tents at the campground with the units, which are 7.5-by-8.5 feet, or roughly 64 square feet each.

They are slightly smaller than the tiny houses at Hope Village, a community of shelters on McAndrews Road also run by Rogue Retreat.

The difference is that the Pallet structures are about 50% cheaper than the Hope Village tiny houses and are extremely portable. Each unit takes about 40 minutes to erect, and they are relatively easy to take apart and transport to another location.

Brady King, who owns Pallet along with his wife, Amy, said the units they donated have extra features, including wiring and a heater, that bring up the cost to $6,800. A base unit costs $4,900.

“These are fully loaded,” he said.

Local officials are also eying the units as possible temporary housing for people displaced by fire. King said his company makes other, larger units that are 100 square feet. They can also be outfitted with air-conditioning.

King said he’d heard about Rogue Retreat’s work for the homeless, and his company offered to provide the units and set them up.

“With four guys, we can typically erect 10 of these per day,” he said. “If we really pushed it, we could do one every 30 minutes.”

Much of the structure is made from sheets of a fiberglass material with aluminum reinforcement.

He said the slightly unusual size of the units allows 30 of them to be loaded onto a 55-foot trailer.

Inside, there are two fold-down benches that can serve as beds, as well as shelving, electrical outlets, windows and a locking front door.

There’s even an emergency opening in the back of the units that offers another way to exit.

Since there’s no power available to hook them up at the campground, the electricity won’t be working yet.

King said air conditioning is another feature that could be added once Rogue Retreat gets power to the units.

King said he’s installed about 500 of the tiny houses on the West Coast and has about 500 units in stock.

Pallet bills itself as a “social-purpose company,” and King said, “About 85% to 90% of our workers have previously been incarcerated, struggled with addictions or were homeless.”

Matthew Vorderstrasse, development director at Rogue Retreat, said the tiny houses will help homeless people who are medically vulnerable or elderly.

Within a few hours Friday morning, several of the units were erected.

“It’s interesting to see how fast they go together,” he said.

Chad McComas, executive director of Rogue Retreat, said the tiny houses are a welcome addition to his organization’s growing list of options for homeless people in the valley.

The urban campground, which has been open for almost three months, has taken in many people who formerly were camping on the Bear Creek Greenway.

“The bottom line is there are 50 people who are safe,” McComas said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.

{ }Tiny houses are installed at the urban campground run by Rogue Retreat on Biddle Road in Medford on Friday. (Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune)