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Spreading Tiny Villages throughout Oregon and Beyond

With a $148,200 grant from Meyer Memorial Trust's Affordable Housing Inititative, SquareOne Villages announces plans for a Tiny Village Toolbox that thinks big!


The tiny house movement is gaining traction everyday as a cost-effective response to the dire need for more affordable housing. Over the past few years, SquareOne Villages (SOV) has emerged as a state and national leader in this effort. We’ve helped generate significant interest and excitement around the tiny village concept, and have witnessed a growing list of new and existing organizations currently working towards building villages of their own.

Some have found success, though many groups are facing seemingly insurmountable roadblocks that leave intentions sidelined. As we move forward with Emerald Village, we’re receiving more and more inquiries from other cities that are interested in learning from our experiences, and applying them to their own local efforts.

It’s clear that simply developing an innovative housing project is insufficient to achieving the goal of developing a replicable, widely dispersed model. After all, if a project is truly innovative in a significant way, others will need technical assistance and training—to varying degrees—in order to put these new ideas into action.

In response, we’re building our capacity to help make that happen. SOV has proposed to research and develop a “Tiny Village Toolbox and Training Practicum” that will provide technical assistance in developing a workable plan, support in gaining the necessary political will to make it happen, and assistance in implementation.

This work is being funded by Meyer Memorial Trust’s Affordable Housing Initiative, which “strives to catalyze innovative strategies to increase availability of affordable housing and support residents’ stability and success."

In 2014 Meyer Memorial Trust convened a Cost Efficiencies Work Group to explore the various cost drivers of affordable housing development in Oregon, which culminated in a report published in October 2015. Following this, MMT invited proposals for testing innovative and cost-efficient approaches to providing more affordable housing in Oregon. SOV’s proposal was one of five to receive funding.

In addition to financing the creation of the Toolbox, the grant will also fund the predevelopment portion of a new village!

We’ve chosen to work with Veneta, Oregon as the location for this next village. The city of around 5,000 people is currently unofficially permitting camping on vacant City property, and it is clear that there is a strong desire to find a longer-term solution. And as a nearby neighbor, we think it will be an excellent opportunity to test and refine our approach for extending the tiny village model beyond Eugene. Furthermore, it will demonstrate that tiny houses can be a viable form of affordable housing in a much smaller city with fewer resources.

We intend to work with the City of Veneta to identify an appropriate site for this development, and and will host a series of collaborative workshops to develop a design a program that responds the needs and desires specific to Veneta. In addition to preparing another Oregon community to develop affordable tiny houses, it’s our intent to use this an opportunity to build our capacity to help disseminate similar projects throughout Oregon and beyond.

Our work on the Tiny Village Toolbox and the Veneta project will begin in April, and will be completed over the course of a year. Among other things, the grant will fund added staff capacity to carry out the work, including a new full-time Project Coordinator position.

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