There are a lot of reasons tiny houses are awesome. They are beautiful to look at, and they present us with clever solutions for organizing space. But in some locations, they are actually transforming lives in a big way.
Dignity Village was created in 2000 to provide a safer, more humane housing solution for Portland’s homeless population. It wasn’t an easy road.
It started with a mobile tent-based community looking for more.
The community had to fight hard through social and political pressures to carve out a place for a better life. Here is how Dignity Village describes this turbulent struggle to take root and grow:
“We came out of the doorways of Portland’s streets, out from under the bridges, from under the bushes of public parks, we came openly with nothing and no longer a need to hide as Portland’s inhumane and Draconian camping ban had just been overturned on two constitutional grounds. We came armed with a vision of a better future for ourselves and for all of Portland, a vision of a green, sustainable urban village where we can live in peace and improve not only the condition of our own lives but the quality of life in Portland in general. We came in from the cold of a December day and we refuse to go back to the way things were.”
Today, Dignity Village offers more than just tent space …
Now Dignity Village has an array of tiny shelters. More than 60 people a night are able to stay there and get some rest surrounded by real community and support.
Those who wish to stay in Dignity Village must abide by the community’s rules for safety and peace. As the village is a collaborative project, anyone who lives there must contribute to upkeep.
The mission of Dignity Village is to “provide transitional housing that fosters community and self-empowerment– a radical experiment to end homelessness.”
Will it work? It is hard to say, but since 2001, it has made life a lot better for those with the greatest need in Portland. If you want to learn more about Dignity Village or donate, you can visit the official website. You can also visit Orange Splot, the builder that worked on some of the community’s tiny structures.