May 26, 2023 - Development

Portland's fifth tiny home shelter site opens

A photo of seven tiny homes part of Portland's Safe Rest Villages program.

A section of the new Safe Rest Villages site in St. Johns. Photo: Meira Gebel/Axios

On Wednesday, Axios toured the newest Safe Rest Villages site — Peninsula Crossing in St. Johns, right off North Macrum Avenue.

Why it matters: This is the fifth tiny home shelter site to open in Portland, and based on Multnomah County data, the program has shown early success in moving people experiencing homelessness into permanent housing.

The latest: Urban Alchemy's outreach team has welcomed 40 new residents since Tuesday, and the site can house up to 65 in the 8-by-8-foot homes.

Details: The Peninsula Crossing site, which is owned by the Portland Housing Bureau (and was the home of the Belmont Goats, relocated a block south), includes a community dining area, a dog run and gardening space.

  • There is also a section of homes with Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations, as well as a 24-hour kitchenette and communal bathrooms with showers.
  • Each home comes with a twin-size bed, sheets and towels, dressers, AC unit and welcome mat — plus an outdoor plant.
  • Residents also have access to on-site Urban Alchemy case managers at all times, who assist with things like document retrieval and mental and behavioral health referrals.

Thought bubble: When visiting the site, Urban Alchemy founder and CEO Lena Miller pointed out how quiet and serene the atmosphere was. When people come into their own tiny home for the first time, "they're able to come out of fight-or-flight" and finally sleep, she said.

What's next: The Joint Office of Homeless Services plans to open three more Safe Rest Villages soon. Construction has already begun at the SE Reedway location in Lents.

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