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'Heart Village' to go before City Council

Rogue Retreat will make a pitch Thursday to the Medford City Council for a new tiny-house village for the homeless, to be called Heart Village, a short distance from downtown.

The organization, which operates several other temporary housing sites in Southern Oregon, wants to place 12 modified shipping containers at 1118 W. Eighth St., near West Main Street and Peach Street.

Heather Hassett, business development director with Rogue Retreat, said her organization will present its idea to the council, which will take the proposal under advisement during a study session and could bring it back at a later time for a formal vote.

“All we need is their approval to reclassify it as an urban campground,” Hassett said.

She said a timeline for when Heart Village would be up and running is difficult to pinpoint at this time, but she thought it would be within six months.

“We’re at the mercy of contractors,” she said. “So few of them have openings right now.”

Contractors have been busy rebuilding after the Almeda fire, as well as a number of other projects around the valley.

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

The vacant lot sits next to Addiction Recovery Center’s facility on West Main, and the village would give homeless people a place to stay while they seek treatment for addiction issues. ARC owns the lot where the tiny houses would be installed.

The village would be organized like Hope Village, a collection of tiny houses on McAndrews Road. Rogue Retreat is also building tiny houses for the homeless in Grants Pass, known as Foundry Village.

Along with the tiny houses, there would be a kitchen trailer, a food pantry shed, a restroom/shower/laundry facility and a community building. Heart Village would be enclosed with a fence.

Eighth Street is a residential area that backs up to other buildings on West Main Street, including ARC, and is close to the building that houses Jackson County Elections.

Medford company Ward Pearson takes shipping containers and cuts them up into various shapes and sizes depending on the needs of a client, according to Geoff Hall, who owns Ward Pearson with his wife, Lisa.

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, in various shapes and sizes, for hunters and others looking for storage space or other purposes.

Under the proposal, two tiny houses would be linked together with a common roof but without common walls.

Mayor Randy Sparacino said he doesn’t have a good sense of how the council will react to the proposal, and he said he needs to see what surrounding residents think about the project.

Sparacino, a former Medford police chief, said he’s supported the efforts of Rogue Retreat over the years to deal with the homeless situation locally.

“Rogue Retreat has a proven track record of doing these kind of projects with the city,” he said.

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

Heart Village would be a community of 12 tiny homes constructed out of modified shipping containers, similar to these, Along with a kitchen trailer, a food pantry shed, a restroom/shower/laundry facility and a community building. (rogueretreat.com)