CHC Reaches Fundraising Milestone!
Carol at CHC Booth near Albany Farmers Market
What a busy, productive year 2021 has been for Creating Housing Coalition (CHC)!
We are delighted to announce that the Oregon State Legislature, under House Bill 5006, awarded our organization a grant in the amount of $600,000. This amount, along with a $100,000 grant that we’ve applied for from the City of Albany from the Community Development Block Grant fund plus individual donations, will allow us to acquire land and begin building Hub City Village.
“This is a major event for us, and we would like to thank the State Legislature, State Representative Shelly Boshart-Davis and Senator Sara Gelser Blouin for their generous contribution in our fight to create permanent homes for low-income, unhoused individuals,” said Carol Davies, Vice President of CHC. “These funds put us almost halfway towards our total fundraising goal of $2.47 million dollars. We are so grateful to everyone who made this possible.”
CHC has also continued to expand awareness of our ever-growing CHC family online, via webinars, social media and in person.
We set up shop in a booth near the Albany Farmers Market to meet our neighbors face to face. This was rewarding because our President Stacey Bartholomew, our V.P. Carol Davies, board member Bill Root, and Capital Campaign Chair Gary Goby among others were on hand to chat about how building Albany’s first self-governing, affordable housing community will be a huge win for everyone.
And maybe you’ve seen our Hub City Village billboard around town? The billboard graphics illustrate the proposed layout of the Village and give a sense of what a positive addition it will be to our city.
IN DEPTH WITH STACEY BARTHOLOMEW, PRESIDENT OF CREATING HOUSING COALITION
Where did you grow up and how did you come to settle in Oregon?
My dad was in the Navy and so I was born in Brunswick, Maine on a Navy base. By the time I went to my first kindergarten in Tucson, Arizona, my parents were divorced, and I had a little brother. By the time I made it to middle school, I had already attended eight elementary schools. It wasn’t until my grandmother died that my mom was able to settle down somewhere permanent. When I was sixteen and I left my house, I visited the Oregon Coast for the first time. I said to myself this is where I am going to end up! A couple decades and three children later I made it to the Oregon Coast and then to Corvallis where I had my youngest child– a girl after three boys– and came out and became a member of the LBGQT Community. It was a supportive community to make that transition and a place of many transitions for me which eventually led me to Albany. This is where my two youngest went/go to school. My third son graduated from West Albany and my baby girl is going into eighth grade at Memorial Middle. It has been quite the transition after a year of online!
What sparked your involvement with affordable housing?
While attending graduate school at OSU and working at the homeless shelter there, I ended up becoming homeless myself for two months. I was so embarrassed by my situation that I didn’t tell anyone until I was able to find an apartment for my four children. This experience and later experiences working for Linn County Mental Health started my interest in doing this work. I was a counselor and so many of my clients were struggling to stay in housing or to stay in treatment if they weren’t in housing or in transitional housing. If they would lose their housing, then I would lose them. I struggled with the reality of how you can treat people when they can’t have at least the stability of having a safe place to live. I needed to be part of the solution to this issue.
As a member of Albany First Christian Church I joined in the Social Justice meeting. Our motto is from Micah 6:8 “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God” The discussion was “What do you think the Community needs most?” I said what we really need is affordable housing. And the question came back to me, “What are you going to do about it?” Nancy Marshall, who is now ninety-two, came up to me and said “Well, if you’ll do [something], I’ll do it.” How could I turn her down! A group of us women started visiting different tiny house villages around the state from Portland to Eugene. We saw in Eugene that they didn’t just offer a transitional housing program; they had a permanent housing program. In Albany, we have two large shelters supported by a generous community, but we can do even better and provide folks the dignity of their own affordable housing.
We learned that the tiny house village formed a cooperative plan so the people in the village were able to run the village themselves, and that was thrilling. The biggest piece of it was the social capital that people were allowed to have because they were running the village themselves. That was exactly the piece I was looking for, the piece that I always saw missing when I was working with clients in Mental Health work. They were isolated. They didn’t have family who could or would support them. And they didn’t have a social network they could connect to and trust. That was an important piece I wanted to have as part of the affordable housing I wanted to see built. Creating Housing Coalition emerged, and we worked toward becoming a nonprofit, which we achieved in 2019.
What is Hub City Village and what does it look like?
Hub City Village is a tiny home community, and the buildings are between around 250 – 350 square feet. They have a bedroom, a bathroom, a mini kitchen and a mini living room, and a number of them will be handicap accessible. For any affordable housing project, you want to allow people to age in place. Because what we have found in most research is that a lot of the people who are unhoused are older folks, people nearing retirement, or are limited in their ability to work. We wanted a place that people could call home for the long term and would not have to leave after a “transitional period.” Folks can live there and age in place and it is not just physically accessible; they have a built-in social support network. That social support network is important because everyone contributes with their time and their energy in managing the village. Cooperatives have three committees: a maintenance committee; administration committee and membership committee. Included in this village will be a community center with a larger kitchen and meeting/gathering space. They will have washers and dryers and there will be storage for bicycles, garden equipment and the like. We plan on having a community garden for the village and hopefully a small green house to start seeds. It’s just going to feel good for people to live there. It will be beautiful, it will be comfortable, and it will be a source of pride for the people that live there. It will be a source of pride for the entire Albany community.
The secret to our success will be the resident peer support specialist who facilitates the residents’ connection to community services, conflict resolution and crisis management. This is a person who has been there, who has skills they can share, and who can be trusted because of their lived experience. The peer support specialist won’t be a stranger to the issues, trauma and needs of the residents.
Who inspires you to do good work?
I would have to say my kids. I want them to have a better world to live in and for them to be inspired to do good things, too. You have to lead by example. Then there are all the people I have worked with. Some have been so talented, but they just didn’t have the resources —social or stable resources– that would allow them to fully manifest themselves and have that dignity and self-worth of contributing their gifts in the world.
WELCOME TO THE CHC BOARD, TESSA GREEN & AL SHATTUCK!
Tessa Green is an artist and a writer. She was born in England and received her early education there.
She emigrated to the U.S. and attended Trinity College, Washington (BA), Toronto University (MA), and Oxford University for summer studies. Later, she pursued art at New York’s Art Students’ League, Brooklyn and Boston Museum schools of art before moving to Santa Fe NM, to paint full-time.
She has worked professionally in publishing in New York, and taught English at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Gettysburg College. Much later she taught English at the New Mexico State Penitentiary, which she found both challenging and rewarding.
Tessa considers the years she spent in New Mexico the most valuable years of her life artistically and spiritually. Embracing a life of poverty, she lived in a small adobe goat house, painting in isolation, and absorbing the magical light that bathes the New Mexico landscape. In 1973 she married and soon had two stepsons and a son and daughter of her own; they (plus a menagerie of horses and dogs while still cramming in some painting and writing for the local paper) made for busy, happy lives.
Even so, after many years of high desert living she was drawn to the ocean; upon retiring she moved to the Oregon Coast and later, with her husband’s job transfer, she came to Albany.
Tessa has spent her retirement years doing volunteer work, painting, and gathering her poems together in a volume. She is a dog and horse lover, bicycle rider, inveterate walker, and amateur gardener. She lives with her husband Ron and their poodle Olive, and enjoys the occasional visit from children, stepchildren, and their families.
Tessa lives downtown and loves that she can walk or cycle for almost everything she needs – including art supplies! Her townhouse location across from the railroad and river enables her to watch the changing seasons and evolving character of Albany. Along with dog walkers and young families she finds it impossible to ignore another group – namely, homeless people. Hauling their belongings by bicycle, shopping cart or on their backs, they shift from place to place along the river. It is these struggling individuals that Tessa feels she wants most to help. In the past she has driven and prepared for Meals on Wheels, handed out vouchers and worked with St Vinnie’s; she would like now to narrow her volunteerism to the tiny house movement.
To this end, she is delighted to be part of the Creating Housing Coalition.
Al Shattuck was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He went to Gresham High School, then to OSU where he studied Structural and Civil Engineering.
Al was an iron worker for several years, then he moved into designing and building custom semi-trailers. “I built semi-trailers mostly for the medical industry, but sometimes, I designed trailers for mobile museums and exhibits,” he said. “I was a mechanical designer for 33 years.” He was Captain of the Shedd Fire Department and served as President of its Volunteer Association.
He is also a musician. “My main-stay is guitar, but I play bass and drums,” he said. “I’ve got a full music room in my house and enjoy getting together with my friends and making music.” Al also likes to fish (“anything that’s running!”), loves refurbishing antiques and going to estate and garage sales.
Why join the CHC Board? “Hub City Village is a very important and worthwhile project,” he explains. “It will be good to help others in the community move forward.”
Al Shattuck lives in Shedd with his wife, Mary, daughter Alyssa, two dogs and three cats.
THE UNHOUSED ARE JUST LIKE US
By Dan Easdale, Corvallis Housing First
There are so many myths circulating about people experiencing homelessness. Sweeping generalizations and false assertions not only harm our neighbors who are unhoused, they damage our efforts as a community to resolve issues that have more to do with economics than character.
As a case manager, I interact with our homeless population every day. In my experience, there is little difference between the unhoused and the housed. It’s true, mental health is an issue among the homeless, but that is also true for some in my family in the housed population. In fact, most people seeking and receiving mental health services are housed.
The same can be said for addictions which afflict both the housed and unhoused. The major difference is access to these services. Being unhoused and having limited economic resources make taking advantage of services far more challenging.
It is easy to yield to the temptation to blame people living their lives on the sidewalk instead of behind closed doors, but it really speaks to our discomfort with observing lives just like our own played out in public. Witnessing this trauma occurring in real time manifested by mental illness or addiction or both should urge us to assist, not judge; this person could very well be one of us. If there is a common trait most associated with homeless individuals, it is trauma, early and significant trauma. The individual we see struggling in public with mental illness is not representative of the homeless population in Corvallis. The majority are people so much like us we don’t recognize them as homeless. Homelessness is not just an issue of personal responsibility because many housed people are a paycheck or two from joining them on the sidewalk.
Common stereotypes result in the homeless being held to a different standard than the housed. For example, if a housed person loses their job, is a victim of abuse, loses their home in a fire, requires medical care, or simply seeks opportunities elsewhere, we expect and applaud them for moving to greener pastures. Of the ten employees in our organization, only two were born in Oregon, and neither of those two in Corvallis. That is typical and we don’t consider it wrong. Yet, when a person or family loses their home, or experiences personal trauma and ends up homeless, we expect them to stay put and attempt to put their lives back together in that same locality, a place that may provide no services and offers a daily reminder of trauma. The truth is that most will stay put. This is what we see in Corvallis; most homeless individuals are from this area, grew up here and/or have family here. A few may come here for a job opportunity, etc., and yet we criticize and demand they return to where they came from because they didn’t bring with them the financial resources to be housed. This criticism is about economics and not behaviors.
Behaviors at tent encampments are very visible and public reminders of what happens in each of our neighborhoods, but because those acts happen indoors, no one pays attention. Think of all the activities that you do indoors that are perfectly legal but when you do them outdoors are now illegal: going to the bathroom, showering, sleeping, drinking, cooking, sex. If we all lived in glass houses, we would realize that housed and unhoused behave in very similar ways.
The repeated myth that people who are homeless are somehow radically different and flawed human beings is wrong and harmful to our community. It marginalizes our neighbors who are just like us, only living outdoors.