Our community needs shelter. Lane County has one of the highest per-capita rates of homelessness in the nation with 80% of the unhoused population living in places not meant for human habitation. We are 24,000 affordable housing units short of need with fewer than 2 shelter beds for every 100 people living unsheltered. With existing providers at capacity, our interventions must leverage our existing systems, build on our assets, and produce a diverse array of alternative, non-congregate housing options that can provide positive impacts to the surrounding areas and help those in need achieve lasting stability.
Our community needs food security. Some 527,000 Oregonians are food insecure, including more than 173,000 children and Lane County’s food insecurity rates are among the highest in the state. The pandemic highlighted the need for secure, sustainable, and inclusive, nutrient-dense food systems. A secure, reliable workforce for the agriculture, food, and natural resource industries is necessary to our food supply.
Our community needs a sustainable shelter ecosystem. Climate studies predict population growth in the Eugene and Willamette Valley area as we begin to experience more extreme weather and as the climate and environment change. Government and healthcare partners will invest millions of dollars over the next 3-years on infrastructure and operations to transform the way we design and deliver homelessness and housing interventions using primarily one-time funding dollars. We need to build a model that can sustain itself and scale up to meet the need. Overcoming objections from neighbors concerned about negative impacts on the surrounding areas is vital for the success of participants in the program and the surrounding community.
The Farm will connect intentional communities that provide multiple pathways towards socioeconomic recovery and community resiliency in an effective, scalable mutual benefit model for stakeholders.
Benefits to Individuals
- Belonging. Communities will be designed to empower healing, bolster food security, create jobs, and add to community resiliency.
- Shelter. Non-congregate sheltering opportunities will be available on the primary hub site and at spoke sites that could include tiny house villages, small dormitory manufactured housing, Conestoga hut, vehicle dweller, cob housing, and RV/5th Wheels.
- Transportation. Residents will have access to shared bikes from ReCyclized.
- Work Opportunity. Stipended and paid workforce training opportunities will be available to residents along with personalized support to increase individual stability (income, housing, health, social). Additional hands-on work experience, training (emergency preparedness, first aid and outdoor ethics courses) and/or entrepreneurial support may be offered to planned spoke benefit communities.
Benefits to Community
- Neighbors: Added community benefit projects that add to a sense of place, and expanded access to fresh local food and community resiliency supports.
- Site Hosts: Choose from a menu of value-added benefits including on-site security services, on-site agriculture, mural painting, solar power generation, and community recycling services.
- Businesses: Access to our pre-screened job applicants enrolled in state and federal incentive programs and customized workforce development programming opportunities.
- Government: Opportunity to Incorporate climate change goals at a local level and support the marketing of local food and beverage industries. Community building with the public, host partners, providers, neighborhoods, and businesses.
Some of the metrics we will be tracking to judge the success of this program.
# of people sheltered
# of people housed
# of people employed
# of microbusinesses spawned
# of lbs food produced
# of lbs waste regenerated
# of carbon sequestered
# of lbs of items recycled
We are currently working with Ja Schindler, the director of Fungi for the People. He has been a mushroom cultivator and student of fungi for over 20 years, in both research and production scales, and has facilitated hands-on mushroom workshops to over 5,500 individuals since 2009 as an act of social and environmental activism. Ja brings together progressive cultivation methods, environmental research, rich cultivation history, a vast knowledge of fungal ecology, and creative approaches to connecting with diverse peoples into an engaging learning experience.
In October, we are planning a trip to Santa Cruz to meet the Homeless Garden Project. Now in their 30th year, the program has provided sanctuary, refuge, and meaningful work within the healing space of an organic farm. Harvests have provided an opportunity to support their vision and community through a CSA program, farm stand, and crafts sold at local stores and on-line. Our goal is to learn their best practices and replicate their operational success at a local level and with a nod to the Oregon Mushroom Belt.
We are in pre-pilot mode during our design phase, seeking startup capital investment. Some of the funding streams we are exploring include family foundation grants, Weyerhaeuser Giving Fund, The Ford Family Foundation, Chambers Family Foundation, Oregon Community Credit Union Foundation, business sponsorships and government contracts.
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