UO Students “BILD” Affordable Housing For Cottage Grove Vets

Feb 24, 2020

The city of Cottage Grove is one wall closer to completing "Legion Cottages," after a wall raising ceremony on Monday. The plan is to build four tiny houses to increase affordable housing options for homeless veterans in rural areas.

UO Landscape and Architecture student Jerrett Nielsen hammers in a metal stake to help stabilize the wall. Nielsen is also a veteran.
Credit Melorie Begay/KLCC News

The project is a collaboration between several entities, including the Post 34 American Legion, Homes for Good, and the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture program “OregonBILDS.”

The program gives students like Sean McNamara and Jarret Nielson the opportunity to work on affordable housing projects. McNamara and Nielsen are both veterans.

“Veterans are a very small part of the population overall, but statistically they are the most at risk for homelessness,” Nielsen said. “As a society it’s incumbent upon us to do what we can where we can.”

In 2019 there were 197 homeless veterans during the annual Point-in-Time Count, a national survey taken during a single night in January. This was an increase from 2018, when 173 veterans were counted.

“Up until now, it’s all been kind of theoretical, you know, we do the drawings, we’ve designed things...this has been a really cool opportunity to see how what we create and come up with gets translated to the work site,” McNamara said.

Sean McNamara, a UO Architecture student and veteran, poses in the frame of one of the recently erected walls. McNamara along with other OregonBLDS students helped design the tiny houses and will help with construction.
Credit Melorie Begay/KLCC News

"Legion Cottages" is expected to be finished in June and its completion represents a big focal point for Homes for Good, said executive director Jacob Fox.

“What Homes for Good is going to try to do is use our experience here to develop more small homes in Cottage Grove and in other small towns and rural areas across Lane County,” he said. 

The total budget for "Legion Cottages" is $550,000, according to Homes for Good communications director Ela Kubok. Lane County contributed a $250,000 HIP Grant and the City of Cottage Grove waived about $24,000 in permits and other fees. The rest of the cost was covered by other grants, donations, and loans.

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