Housing the Homeless in Grants Pass, Oregon

Since the doors to Foundry Village opened just over five months ago, the transitional community has already graduated two participants from homelessness back into the workforce and self-sufficiency. The village is comprised of 17 tiny homes in a gated and staffed community serving those affected by homelessness in Josephine County, Oregon.

A project of AllCare Community Foundation (ACCF), Foundry Village is a safe place where those experiencing homelessness can find the stability necessary to further their journey from homelessness into long-term housing and self-sufficiency. In addition to the 17 tiny homes (detached bedrooms), the village includes a community building with a kitchen, showers and bathrooms, a meeting space and case management offices.

About 80 percent of operating costs are covered by reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid. The remainder comes from local community care organizations, grant funding and donations. ACCF contracts with Rogue Retreat for operations and client services.

“Rogue Retreat has a proven case management structure and develops a customized program for each participant,” said Jed Keller, volunteer fundraiser and ACCF board member. “They provide job skills and training, offer on-site health care services, addiction groups and counseling. Combining safe shelter with onsite wrap-around services is critical to success.”

Organizers have developed strong partnerships with law enforcement and community action teams to refer homeless individuals to Foundry Village. Although the village is low-barrier, participants must be willing to accept and actively engage in the services provided.

“We conduct an extensive interview process to determine appropriate fit,” explained Doug Walker, volunteer project manager and ACCF board member. “Are they ready to move on up and take advantage of the services provided? Are they willing to participate in the community? We are meeting people where they’re at and trying to help them become healthy.”

Participants are required to pay a nominal monthly program fee (half of which goes into a personal savings account for each participant when they leave Foundry Village) and work with Rogue Retreat’s supportive services staff and community partners to address their individual barriers. The village serves single adults and couples with an average age of about 50 years old.

“Many people have a distorted view of homelessness,” Keller explained. “For example, we are seeing more seniors becoming unsheltered when they can no longer afford a home on social security and they have no relatives. Another example is a woman here at Foundry Village who was in a serious car accident with her husband. He died, she accumulated staggering health care bills and ended up homeless.”

Foundry Village is inspired by the highly successful Hope Village in nearby Medford, OR, which has a similar model that provides guidance and shelter. Foundry Village organizers applied several lessons learned by Hope Village as they worked to locate and build the new facility.

“We included city staff, city council and other local politicians early in the process,” Walker explained. “They had to be involved and on board because we needed to change the zoning code to build Foundry Village.

We also got out early to talk to the neighbors to describe and explain the project. We wanted to minimize the ‘NIMBY’ effect.”

Organizers engaged a wide swath of the Josephine County community including city leaders, local businesses and non-profits, state agencies, hospitals, first responders, donors, volunteers, Rotary clubs and even the local lumber yard.

“It takes the whole community to make this happen,” Keller smiled.

In 2021, Avista awarded more than $2.4 million in philanthropic giving across our five-state service territory to help people in need. Grant applications for Economic and Community Development proposals will be accepted July 1 – August 1, 2022. Visit www.avistafoundation.org.

Learn more about Foundry Village and Hope Village.

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