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Sponsors Offers Tiny Houses For Temporary Respite Shelters

Lane County has found one solution to the potential challenges if members of its homeless population become sick with COVID-19.

The county had sought an ordinance to require local hotels to provide rooms for people with the virus who don’t require hospitalization. But, now Sponsors has stepped forward and is offering its tiny houses for the purpose. 

“That has been a really tremendous piece for us,” Says Lane County Public Healthspokesperson Jason Davis,  “In terms of making sure that our homeless community has the resources to follow the governor’s stay-at-home orders, and just a place to recover. You know, as a human being who needs a roof over their head and a warm place to sleep while they are likely feeling very miserable from a very severe illness.”

People who are homeless are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they struggle to access sanitation and a safe place to recover from the illness. Sponsors offers housing and job training to people who’ve been incarcerated. The non-profit completed construction of its tiny houses in January. The project, called Jeffrey Commons, is an affordable housing option for people seeking to rebuild their lives after being in jail or prison. Executive Director Paul Solomon says the plan was to move people into the houses in March.

“Then the Coronavirus hit and changed everything.  We have since taken the units off-line so that we could use them for any of our residents who needed to be quarantined (because of a positive COVID-19 test or because they were exhibiting symptoms that warranted quarantining).  Fortunately, we have not had call to use them for this purpose yet.” 

Solomon contacted Lane County Public Health when he heard they were struggling to offer hotel rooms for people who are homeless and have the virus. He says Sponsors will provide five of its ten tiny houses for shelter. If there’s a need for he says they’ll consider it. Lane County will provide intake, services, and clean-up under the agreement.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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