With a successful groundbreaking on June 10, Hub City Village is officially on its way to becoming Albany’s first tiny house village, dedicated to providing a home and community for our unhoused neighbors. Read Stacey Bartholomew’s heartfelt speech chronicling this remarkable journey that brought this about.
Good afternoon, and thank you for being here with me today. I am honored to have so many friends, family and guests here to celebrate this important milestone for the Creating Housing Coalition. I want to especially acknowledge Nancy Marshall, who is the one responsible for making this happen, because in 2017 she became my co-conspirator in this process!
We innocently attended a meeting at First Christian Church to talk about social justice issues. When the speaker asked what Albany really needed, I could not stay quiet. I said we needed “To house the homeless!” Then he asked me that pivotal question. “What are you going to do about it?”
My mouth agape, I was dumbfounded. I immediately felt discouraged because I didn’t even know where to start. Then after the meeting, Nancy Marshall approached me and said those 7 tiny words – “I’ll do it, if you’ll do it!” and the universe pronounced, “Let it be so!”
Nancy talked to her friends – Sharon, Linda, and Alice, and we traveled to Portland and to Kenton Women’s Village. We saw tiny house bedrooms that were brand new, had solar panels, and the women living there were happy to share their experiences with us. One woman asked if we had heard of Dan Bryant and Opportunity Village in Eugene, which inspired Kenton Women’s Village. Several of the women in our group knew Dan Bryant because he grew up in Albany. We contacted him and the next week we were there discovering Opportunity Village. Dan Bryant met us there to lead the tour and he came roaring in on his motorcycle – not what I expected of a pastor. He looked at our little band of mostly elderly women, and the first question he asked as he looked over our heads was “Where are the men?”. Little did he know that these women had established Habitat for Humanity in Albany and had participated in Habitat’s “Women Build” projects. This was not the first time we would be underestimated!
At Opportunity Village we got to meet Alice Gentry for the first time, learn how tiny house villages work in a cooperative manner and enjoy the expertise of Pastor Dan. Then he asked if we wanted to visit their newest project that they started because they were having a difficult time getting people into housing once they had gotten them off the street. We anxiously followed him the few blocks to Emerald Village and toured partially constructed houses with their own kitchens, bathrooms and sleeping nooks. That is when it all changed for me. That was when I realized I needed to bring the permanent tiny homes model here to Albany.
In early 2018, we invited Dan to give a presentation at First Christian Church and shared our announcement of the project in the Democrat-Herald newspaper. We expected maybe a handful of people, but 65 people came together to learn about this adventure, and we knew we were on to something big that was stirring not just in our hearts, but others’ as well. Jennifer Moody, a reporter for the Democrat Herald at the time, asked who was in charge, and someone directed her to me. The question from her that I struggled to answer was, “Why Now?”. All I could think of was we couldn’t wait any longer.
The reason began four decades ago. At 10-years-old I found myself shivering from the cold night in just a short sleeve shirt as I watched my mother close and lock the front door before me. No amount of pounding or pleading reversed that scenario. I was on my own for the first time, looking for my own shelter that night. After wandering the streets for several blocks, I came upon a boat sitting in a driveway. The door to the hatch was open and I crawled inside. That was the first night of many, just waiting for morning. Over the next couple years, I learned to sneak back into my mother’s house when she was asleep or not there, always carry some money, and resourcefully find places to sleep. I learned to protect my brother when he had to join me. I taught myself to survive, how to keep quiet, how to hide. I knew that one day, I was going to have a key to the door of my own home, and never be locked out again.
I grew up to have four children of my own, learned that I didn’t need to hide in a boat, or anywhere, that I didn’t need to hide who I am. I bought my first house by myself here in Albany in 2015 and began to get into some good trouble with Nancy Marshall.
At that first meeting in 2018, Carol Davies connected with the group and brought her many years of non-profit experience. Bill Root joined soon thereafter, and many people came with their whole hearts, including Carmen Moody, Tiara Duran, Laura Kadelbach and Dr. Larry Eby, who pointed us in the right direction towards our first grant through IHN-CCO. We formed our nonprofit, Creating Housing Coalition, in 2019. We got the grant and prepared to make strides in 2020. We had our first fundraiser that January. Do all of you remember what came next? COVID! Suddenly, after our great start to the year and momentum revving up, the world came to a halt during the pandemic. That year we all had to figure out how to meet while social distancing, then remotely over zoom, then how to communicate in this new world we found ourselves in. So, we hired a consultant to determine our feasibility and found out that Albany is an amazing place filled with truly incredible people who also shared our vision. Mayoral candidate, Alex Johnson II, had already seen our vision. He had traveled to Eugene and saw for himself what could be. He incorporated that vision into his plan for Albany. Mayor Johnson introduced us to Michael Couch, who helped us get our second grant through the state of Oregon. Both Mayor Alex and Michael shared resources with us and encouraged us by connecting us with people, information, and resources. Michael Couch was also the conduit for our largest grant through the Oregon Health Authority.
We continued into 2021 bringing Dr. Gary Goby, the man responsible for finishing of the Albany Carousel, on board. As many know, he dived right in looking for land! That year we also lost a wonderful board member and mother, and the board knew that we would dedicate the resident center to Tiara Duran. In August, Danielle Hutchinson, who had grant writing skills, joined us, and we are deeply grateful. Throughout 2021 we looked for land across Albany. We considered a decommissioned city park and surplus GAPS school district property. It wasn’t until we found this hidden piece of land in January of 2022 that we finally found the future home of Hub City Village. Al Shattuck and Rob Dibble joined us, plans started coming together and just last year on December 6, we signed on the dotted line for this property at 241 Waverly Drive. We have just recently welcomed a new member to our board who also knows intimately the task of living unhoused. Mark Vidal brings his much-needed perspective to the continuing work we have here.
You see, back in 2017 at that first meeting, I didn’t know what I was going to do to help our unhoused neighbors. I did not know how I was going to answer the question of what I was going to do about it. The key to unlocking that answer was Nancy Marshall, gently nudging me with her words, “I will do it, if you will.” She unlocked the door to our journey. She gave me courage, and sometimes a stern talk, to remind me to keep moving forward with this because she wasn’t getting any younger!
Today I honor Nancy Marshall as my hero and my inspiration. She unlocked the door for me to begin this project. Now I invite you to unlock the doors to Hub City Village in 2024!
We have raised 95% of our costs for this project. Your gift today will help us cross the finish line. We will have tiny homes for 27 families to finally have a place they can afford, a place they can finally rest, a place they can rebuild their lives. Please make a donation to the Creating Housing Coalition today to help us unlock the door in 2024.
Thank you again for being here with us today, for honoring the hard work and sacrifice we have put into this project, and for allowing us the honor to build Hub City Village.