Mary and Victor Cristy live in the little red bungalow at Opportunity Village Eugene (OVE), but you might have a hard time catching up with them there. They each spend a good portion of the day out of the Village, working or doing errands.
Mary spends part of her day being a loving, supportive grandma with her 27-month-old granddaughter Jaci, who lives in Eugene. She will gladly show you pictures of Jaci, and you won’t even have to ask! Mary grew up in Creswell. She’s worked in various caregiving facilities over the years in the Eugene area.
In mid-October, Victor started a new part-time job as a cleaning tech at the Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene. It’s a “temp to hire” position, and he expects to transition to permanent status. He’s also signed on with Crowd Management Services, which provides staffing for UO games, community concerts, and other types of events. Victor likes work that keeps him moving around, and the cleaning tech job suits him well. He was a warehouse supply clerk in the military for 7 years -- 3 years in the Army and 4 years in the Marines. He’s worked previously at the University of Oregon and EWEB as a custodian. Victor’s father was in the military, and the family lived in various places in the U.S. when he was growing up.
About a year ago, Victor and Mary hit a rough patch in their finances and couldn’t keep up with the rent payment on their Eugene apartment where they had lived for 6 years. They had to move out. They stayed at the Eugene Mission for 3 months before coming to Opportunity Village. Victor moved to OVE in February 2017, and Mary in March.
Their transition plan is to get back to permanent housing. They’ve worked the systems that are available for finding housing, with help from the OVE social work intern, but it’s been “stressful and disappointing.” For example, they had a Section 8 housing voucher. But there were no apartments available in Eugene. The voucher was only good for 4 months and then it expired. Now, with Victor’s steady income, they plan to apply for residency at Emerald Village Eugene (EVE), SquareOne Village’s community of 22 tiny houses currently being built about a mile away from OVE.
Meanwhile, Mary and Victor say that life at OVE has been overall a good experience. “It’s given us a way to learn about budgeting and – another big benefit – each of us has lost 25 pounds since becoming homeless,” says Mary, laughing, “I guess I was cooking too well!”