News and Views – Summer, 2022
CHC ACQUIRES LAND, PLANS UNDERWAY!
Fantastic news, everyone! We’ve recently acquired our first piece of land, putting us one step closer to our dream of providing housing to unhoused folks in our community.
The property is located at 241 Waverly Road in Albany, and it’s a whopping 1.38 acres. With our current layout, we will be able to fit about 25 houses, each approximately 12×24 feet in size; these homes will contain a bathroom, bedroom, and a living room/kitchen. Each bathroom will have its own toilet and shower, and the kitchen will feature a sink, fridge, microwave and some counter space. We have already met with the city to discuss our layout and make any necessary changes.
While our priority is providing housing, we also know that we need to protect our planet, so we aim to make our village net-zero. We are currently working on creating a layout for solar power on the site to provide green energy. We also plan to make the homes themselves energy efficient by using high R-Value insulation and energy efficient appliances, among other potential approaches. This will reduce the community’s energy needs, thereby driving down maintenance costs and reducing the need for off-site energy generation.
All in all, we are so excited to have taken this next step! It seems like just yesterday that this community was merely a seed of an idea, but now we’re well on our way to providing the affordable housing our community desperately needs. We hope you’ll continue to stick with us as we move closer to our goal of providing permanent housing for our unhoused and housing-unstable neighbors.
And if you’re just learning of our efforts, now is a perfect time to get involved! We can always use more volunteers and donations. Can’t do that? Then spread the word about our project!
Elderly and Homeless
When you ask most to describe a homeless person, they will likely imagine a millennial, or perhaps a gen-xer. Nonetheless, certainly a young adult, and one whose decisions and laziness led them to be on the street. Had they only worked harder, only contributed more, then they would be in a home with a stable job with which they could support themselves.
However, the reality of our world is quite different. According to the New York Times, more than 30% of the unhoused population is elderly, defined here as being 50 years old or older, and this percentage is only expected to grow by the year 2050. While some have been homeless for much of their life, many were dragged into homelessness by the 2008 financial crash. Fired from their jobs, and without money left to pay their mortgage, they were forced into the rental market—which fast outpriced them. There was little, if any, government support, so they ended up unable to pay for housing anywhere, and thus found themselves on the street.
While the recession is more than a decade behind us, do not think the elderly are safe now. Per a report by NASDAQ in 2020, 10% of baby boomers have a negative net worth, and over 70% do not have enough saved up for retirement. It is often difficult for the elderly to even find employment, especially in times of recession, much less maintain that position. And without a job, those who weren’t able to save enough for retirement will often lose their homes.
Homelessness is an awful curse for anyone to bear, but it is especially problematic for the elderly. In the US, we have a few systems to help homeless folks, like shelters, soup kitchens, and outreach from local activist organizations. These work as a bandaid to mitigate some of the negative effects of homelessness. However, most do little, if anything, to address the more complex needs of the elderly.
While young homeless people also have medical needs, especially since many homeless folks are disabled, elderly individuals are far more likely to have medical concerns like diabetes and heart complications; these problems require regular medical care at a doctor’s office and self-administered medicine, but without a car and a secure home-base, meeting this need is incredibly difficult.
The stress of homelessness furthers the problem. A study by University of California, San Francisco showed that being homeless can age someone over 10 years past their actual age. For those who are already advanced in age, this means facing problems like memory loss, organ failure, and vision loss sooner—all without the medical care and support that could slow these problems down.
Thankfully, this need not be our reality. In Boston, Massachusetts, The Hearth Program was created to provide permanent, accessible, and affordable housing to the elderly homeless population in the area. Residents living there are offered transportation to their medical appointments, and because of the structure of the housing communities, they have the opportunity to develop friendships and stave off the loneliness that so many elderly face. According to data provided by a healthcare company serving some in The Hearth Program, the community saves its residents over $10K a year in healthcare costs.
Our work at the Creating Housing Coalition also aims to aid the elderly homeless population—but we extend our reach to all of our homeless neighbors. Most, if not all, of our homes will be built with accessibility needs like wheelchair access and shower seating in mind. Our community will provide permanent housing, allowing our residents to age in place, rather than worrying about finding another place as their needs shift. Because our rent adjusts to a resident’s income level, elderly folks without enough saved up for retirement will not need to worry about being unable to afford their bills. Finally, with our self-governing, tight-knit community structure, residents will get to know one another and forge strong bonds of mutual aid and friendship, which will work to stave off loneliness and boredom.
But we can’t do it without your help. If you have the means, our organization can always use volunteers and donations. For those who can’t help in these ways, simply spreading the word about the work we’re doing can inspire hope and help bring in others. Together, we can and will create a better, more just world.
Welcome to the CHC Board, Ron Dibble
Our newest board member, Ron Dibble, grew up in Idaho, where he also attended college and earned a degree in architecture, before moving to Oregon in the late 90s.
Throughout his career, Rob developed and deployed client based Performance Portals and provided architectural solutions for water-related programs like the Fargo Morehead Diversion channel. Rob also received the Commanding General’s Award of Excellence for his work on the Arm’s Hale Koa Hotel in 1999. While working for the Oregon Department of Transportation for the past five years, he provided program management for all vertical structures and led the project management crew.
Rob was introduced to CHC when he was asked to help design our community. But when he attended his first meeting and saw the dedication of our volunteers and the impressive scope of our project, he knew he had to be a part of it. “The vision was firmly planted in my desire to help others not only with housing, but a better life,” he said. “Joining the board was the next logical step. I enjoy assisting the team with various tasks and becoming part of something bigger than myself.”
We are very excited to have Rob joining us! With his skills in everything from architectural planning to land acquisition and his dedication to a better world, we know he’ll be an incredible contributor to our work.
MORE WAYS TO GIVE
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In a Nutshell…
Wondering what we’ve been up to over the past few months here at the Creating Housing Coalition? Then wonder no more!
- We acquired our first piece of land! Read all about it in this newsletter’s feature article.
- Our COAT outreach program continues to connect with homeless individuals in the area, providing essential goods, shelter—whether permanent or temporary—and other types of support.
- We’re planning to hold a small informational panel for folks in the neighborhood around our first tiny home development. This will hopefully assuage any concerns and plant the seeds for a good relationship!
- For the past month, we’ve been hosting a booth next to the local farmers market to spread the word about CHC and gather donations. This will be continuing until the end of June!
- We’ve been working with the Albany Police Department and Helping Hands to develop a new Service Coordinator position. This position will work to keep people from falling through the cracks as they apply for social services.
- Grants, grants, grants! Danielle has been working to acquire a number of grants. One from the City of Albany could go a long way towards supporting the construction of the village by offsetting SDCs and permitting fees. We’re also investigating an Oregon Health Administration grant to facilitate the creation of the supportive housing model that our village will use. In addition, we’ve applied for a United Way grant—this money would benefit COAT. Finally, we’re working with Energy Trust of Oregon, Pacific Power, and the Oregon Department of Energy on getting grant money for the community’s solar panels.
- We acquired our first piece of land! Read all about it in this newsletter’s feature article.