Opportunity Village Eugene’s ribbon is snipped, and now it’s time for construction. Following the Eugene Celebration Parade Saturday, Aug. 24, residents and volunteers will head to the site at 111 N. Garfield and begin constructing its shelters. “When this succeeds, this can go nationwide,” future resident Mark Hubbell says.
At the ribbon cutting, organizers reported that in addition to the construction, they’re working on even more service-related plans for the village, including an educational program called “The Academy.”
“Our small community is looking forward to working and doing outreach to other communities, our neighbors,” Hubbell says. Organizers say they’re talking with Occupy Medical about bringing its bus to the site on a weekly basis, and they plan to accept donations at the site and help homeless people access supplies and support. “We want to do a lot of outreach, going out in the community and giving back,” Hubbell says.
Villagers will begin accepting donations a couple of weeks after the village opens, including bedding, hygiene products, first-aid supplies, bike-related tools, baggage and office supplies. “We greatly appreciate any kind of help that the community might be able to provide,” Hubbell says. Those who want more information about donating can text him at (458) 205-1985.
A couple of months after the village opens, villagers and volunteers will start teaching each other skills in The Academy program. Steering committee member Wayne Martin says that the curriculum will range from basic computer skills and resume writing to bike repair and gardening to self-care like yoga and nutrition. “Our hopes are that this is not just going to be a place to live and spend time; this is going to be a place to live and learn and grow,” Martin says, eventually allowing residents opportunities to transition to permanent housing.
For some, it will be an opportunity for a fresh start. “A couple of years ago, I had everything,” future resident Eileen Fonseca says, but she got sick and spent the last two years couch-surfing, without stability or a long-term place to stay. “This is the biggest gift that I could ever ask for.”
Opportunity Village will include up to 30 dwellings, which could house about 45 people, including couples. Conestoga huts and tiny bungalows between 60 and 80 square feet will be the standard design, with a separate, central building with electrical hookups. Other structures include a welcome kiosk to track who is in the village, showers and sanitation, a central kitchen, dining and a gathering area. To volunteer in village construction, see building dates at opportunityvillageeugene.org.