Two sites chosen for micro-villages

By Janet Goetze

A new micro-village for houseless people is planned on land owned by a North Portland church and another on Southeast Portland property owned by the Portland Bureau of Transportation, according to WeShine PDX, a nonprofit corporation.

One village expected to open later this year will be at North Hereford Avenue and Lombard Street on the property of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, said Jan McManus, executive director of WeShine. The other will be at Southeast 19th Avenue and Division Street on an unused right-of-way, she said.

The Joint Office of Homeless Services has awarded $550,000 for each new site, McManus said. Other grants and donations help support the construction and services offered at the sites.

The expectation is that residents be able to move to stable housing within two years.

WeShine, a grass-roots group formed by residents of Kerns, Laurelhurst and Sullivan’s Gulch neighborhoods, currently manages a village with 11 residents at the Parkrose Community United Church of Christ. The village opened in September 2022 and since then, five residents have moved to permanent housing, McManus said.

Paid staff will be at each new site and each resident will have assistance to achieve personal goals, which might include a job, recovery treatment and moving to stable housing.

The nonprofit works with other agencies and volunteers to assist residents, she said.

WeShine holds a series of meetings with neighborhood organizations and nearby property or business owners to develop “good neighbor” agreements before developing villages, McManus said.

“We want to give neighborhoods a reason to support micro-villages rather than oppose them,” she said.

Some fears about the new sites were relieved after nearby residents talked with Parkrose villagers, she said.

WeShine seeks residents who often are marginalized people, McManus said.

These include members of the BIPOC+ community and older adults or those with physical disabilities.

WeShine stands for Welcoming, Empowering, Safe Habitation Initiative with Neighborhood Engagement.

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