Portland Would Allow Homeless to Live in Residents’ Backyards in New Pilot Program

PORTLAND, ME - JANUARY 9: Dana Burnell, a panhandler walking the median strip at the corner of Franklin and Somerset Street, said he read about the possibility of being banned from the medians and said it would severely hurt the homeless who depend on getting money to survive. Recently kicked …
Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald/Getty

The city of Portland will allow homeless families to move into government-built mini houses in the backyards of residents willing to host them.

A pilot program set to launch this summer, called “A Place for You,” will place the homeless in little pod-like shelters called “Accessory Dwelling Units” in the backyards of willing homeowners, the Daily Mail reported.

The government plans to pay $75,000 per dwelling in construction costs for four tiny units scheduled to be completed by June, with plans to create 300 dwelling units in the next year if the pilot program is successful, the Oregonian reported.

Once construction is completed, homeowners would become landlords in charge of maintaining the units for homeless families for five years. After the five year period, homeowners can do whatever they want with the units. If homeowners decide to break their contract before the five-year period is up, they have to pay the construction costs.

Tenants would be screened and would have to sign a lease with the homeowner that states what behaviors will not be tolerated.

Families that participate in the program would be linked to social services already provided to the homeless in Portland and would be responsible for paying 30 percent of the rent on the units.

The Multnomah County Idea Lab, a relatively new county office in charge of coming up with innovative policy solutions, came up with the pilot program using tactics from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a county weatherization program.

Residents just passed a $260 million housing bond, but officials from the lab say it will be awhile before those units are ready.

“Those units are not going to come on line for another two to three years and they’re really expensive to build in some cases,” said lab director Mary Li. “We have people on the street now.”

About 200 homeowners have signed up for the pilot program after the city’s alternative weekly newspaper publicized the project, the Portland Press-Herald reported.


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