Eugene’s Safe Sleep Site Creates Village Community | New
Arlen Rexius, co-chairman of landscaping company Rexius, invited Gabe Piechowicz to speak to him in August about Piechowicz’s idea for a safe sleep site. They entered a gate in Rexius’ 4-acre lot that was to become Everyone’s Village, a protected community for the homeless.
“He gave me the keys, and he said, ‘Make no mistake, kid,’” Piechowicz said. “It was the start of Everyone’s Village.”
Eugene City Council officially approved Everyone’s Village as a safe sleep site at their September 29 meeting. working session. Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis announced at a conference on July 1 that the city has received more than $ 3 million from the state for safe sleep sites and $ 250,000 for temporary camping sites . A portion of this money will fund sanitation and hygiene services as well as 24/7 staffing for the village of Everybody, according to the website.
Piechowicz said Everyone Village will receive additional funding from donations and Lane County. Community partnerships will help provide support services to residents, he said.
Although they have just started cleaning up debris from the site, Piechowicz said he and his co-founder Heather Sielicki hope to welcome 30 residents by the end of fall. By next summer, the village will be able to accommodate 60 to 80 inhabitants.
Everyone Village will be home to a community filled with various accommodations – including cottages, micro-shelters, and RVs. The group works with the local association Wear it forward to supply small house prototypes, Sielicki said.
Their first available prototype sits on wheels, fits into a parking spot and plugs into a standard power outlet. “It really provides a basic, warm, safe and dry place for someone,” Sielicki said. Everyone Village is also working with an architect to create a US Disability Act compliant model of this tiny home.
Connected Lane County, a nonprofit serving underrepresented youth, is also working with Everyone Village to build tiny houses for the site, Sielicki said. The association hires and teaches young people facing barriers to employment to build small houses with the builders of Carry It Forward.
Village staff are carrying out awareness-raising actions by asking homeless people if they want to exchange their tent for a small house and live in the village when it opens, Piechowicz said.
Everyone Village will also work with community partners to provide a variety of services to residents. The co-founders are looking to partner with PeaceHealth, HIV-Alliance and Chrysalis to have drug and alcohol treatment on site, Piechowicz said. They are also looking for a community partner to provide mental health counseling.
Lane County will fund case management, but Everyone Village must find a provider, Piechowicz said. The village is also seeking to incorporate art and spirituality services into the village.
Piechowicz said the village’s workforce development program, which includes repairing bikes and growing mushrooms, sets it apart from other models in the community. “We want to help those who are ready to start a career outside the village,” he said.
The co-founders are using current and former students from the University of Oregon’s Department of Landscape Architecture to design Everyone’s Village in an eco-friendly and sustainable way, Sielicki said.
“There are so many areas that we have to tackle at the same time,” said Sielicki, “We see climate change and homelessness as some of the major battles in our lives.”
Sara Loquist, a first-year doctoral student in the department working with Everyone Village, said this included using sustainable building products, creating less concrete and more green space, creating an urban farm and recycling. Loquist said she hopes her work with the village can be replicated for similar housing projects.
Sielicki said she was excited by the local community’s collaboration in creating Everyone Village. “I have been involved in this work for years and have never seen so much enthusiasm and energy,” she said.
Piechowicz said he believed Eugene would be blessed with the project. “We are going to create a village and a space where some of the people we call the neighbors who are suffering the most will start to write their own stories where they will see themselves flourish and contribute to our larger community,” he said. .