- Associated Press - Friday, April 8, 2016

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) - The Medford City Council is considering establishing a tiny house community for homeless people in the city.

The council on Thursday heard from the public about the proposed village on a 1/3-acre lot near downtown, The Mail Tribune reported (https://is.gd/hXbSaf).

Rich Hansen of St. Vincent de Paul said the site would serve as transitional living close to resources for homeless people and transportation. The community would ban fighting, stealing, drugs and alcohol. Organizers plan to install privacy slats in the chain link fence already on the property.

“We think we might improve the neighborhood - not drag it down,” Hansen said.

However owners of nearby businesses disagree. Jack Schmidt, owner of Precision Electric near the site, said businesses have been trying to improve the downtown area, which has been the recipient of urban renewal funding for beautification. He said there are already many homeless people in the area that aren’t helping.

“We have syringes on the sidewalks, break-ins in the trucks and people sleeping in the bushes,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt, who has tried to acquire the lot in question from the city for years, said he also doubts the tiny houses, a mobile kitchen, mobile laundry, mobile restroom and garbage dumpster would fit on the small lot.

Randall Theatre board member John Wing said he has already received complaints from patrons saying they will no longer attend plays if a homeless village is established.

“We pay for the next show with the current show,” he said. “We would be in a hole really quickly if we had shows that didn’t sell.”

The proposal is based on a similar village in Eugene. Mayor Gary Wheeler has asked to see the Eugene site’s lease agreement for a better understanding of how permitting and leasing was handled.

“We need to know what direction we’re headed,” Wheeler said. “I think there’s a little discomfort because we’re forging ahead without some important things.”


Information from: Mail Tribune, https://www.mailtribune.com/

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