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New tiny house village planned

Shipping containers could become the latest temporary habitat for homeless people in Medford.

Rogue Retreat, a local social services organization, wants to create an entirely new homeless and addiction treatment model just off West Main Street with a collection of 12 tiny houses known as Heart Village.

The repurposed shipping containers would be fashioned by Medford company Ward Pearson LLC, and installed on a property owned by Addiction Recovery Center on West Eighth Street near Peach Street, a short distance from the Jackson County Elections offices.

If approved by the city, it would become the second tiny house community in Jackson County, along with Hope Village on McAndrews Road, also operated by Rogue Retreat.

This latest effort by Rogue Retreat to get the homeless off the streets and into recovery would be geared specifically toward those with addiction issues.

“It’s impressive what they’ve been able to do,” said Geoff Hall, who owns Ward Pearson with his wife, Lisa. “There’s a lot of people out there who are homeless, and while it’s tempting to say, ‘Pick up your pants and get to work,’ many of these people suffer from schizophrenia and other mental disorders.”

Hall’s company takes shipping containers and cuts them up into various shapes and sizes depending on the needs of a client. In this case, he would make tiny houses that are roughly 10-by-10 feet.

The units would be fully insulated and would resemble small cottages with a door and windows. They would look similar to the tiny houses at Hope Village but would have a metal frame instead of a wood frame.

Hall’s company builds a variety of units, which come in various shapes and sizes, for hunters and others looking for storage space or other purposes.

When he’s done with the Heart Village units, Hall said they won’t look like shipping containers.

“The last thing we want is the appearance of a bunch of shipping containers lined up,” he said.

He said two tiny houses would have a common roof, but would otherwise not be joined together.

Each tiny house would cost about $10,500, and Rogue Retreat has begun a fundraising campaign at rogueretreat.com.

Rogue Retreat plans to present its idea to Medford City Council Jan. 28.

The vacant lot sits next to ARC’s facility on West Main, and the village would give homeless people a place to stay while they seek treatment.

“These are people who are in recovery treatment for addiction,” said Lori Paris, president and chief executive officer of ARC.

She said her organization quickly assesses the needs of those seeking treatment, a majority of whom have both addiction and mental health problems.

“We use peer mentors and certified recovery mentors,” Paris said. “They can establish a strong relationship pretty quickly.”

She said the important thing is to develop trust quickly between the mentors and those seeking help.

Paris said those struggling with addiction have a better chance for recovery if they have a place to live. Heart Village, based on the heart symbol used by ARC, combines the focuses of both her organization and Rogue Retreat.

“This is badly needed, and we couldn’t do this without the partnership of Rogue Retreat,” Paris said.

Heart Village could have as few as 12 people or as many as 24, depending on how many couples are there.

Some of the homeless people who are at the urban campground off Biddle Road in north Medford could potentially be relocated to Heart Village, Paris said. ARC currently sends some of those in treatment to the urban campground.

Rogue Retreat also operates the Kelly Shelter, which has 54 beds, and the urban campground currently has 58 people staying there. In Grants Pass, Foundry Village is another tiny house community.

“We’re all just trying to save people,” said Chad McComas, executive director of Rogue Retreat. “Lori and I have a heart for these people who need help.”

He said Rogue Retreat has been looking at a way to create a housing model for those in treatment.

“These are people that have recognized they have an addiction issue and want help,” said McComas.

In addition to the tiny houses, Heart Village would build a kitchen, pantry, restrooms, showers and a small parking area near Eighth Street.

Similar to Hope Village, the tiny houses in Heart Village would not have electricity or running water. The existing homeless facilities are monitored 24 hours a day.

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

Geoff Hall refurbishes a shipping container Wednesday at this shop in Medford. Hall is working with Rogue Retreat on an idea to build small habitats out of shipping containers for homeless people. Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune