On November 14th, 2019 Jacob Fox lowered the excavator arm into the squared-off section and scooped up a clawful of earth. An energetic crowd cheered and applauded as the Homes for Good executive director dumped the dirt to the side. People gathered for a group photo, looking hopeful and pleased; finally, the ground had been broken for The Commons on MLK.
Since late 2016, Homes for Good has been planning the construction of the new affordable housing complex. The 51-unit apartment has been designated for those experiencing chronic homelessness, and will house those who have been homeless the longest and are high users of services like the emergency room. ShelterCare has proudly partnered with Homes for Good by providing 24/7 staffing support to residents.
An optimistic crowd packed tightly together in a warm room to commemorate this step forward. Several community members took to the podium at the front of the room.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could house everyone who is right now homeless and struggling with barriers to become whole and housed? That’s the future I believe in.” Susan Ban said, speaking emphatically.
Other community members spoke, such as Cindy Williams, who shared her experience with homelessness. She highlighted the positive impact affordable housing had on her journey towards stability and independence.
Leaders such as Jacob Fox, the ShelterCare board vice president and Homes for Good executive director, and Mayor Lucy Vinis brought forward the importance of community partnerships for such projects.
And this project does not lack partnerships. Collaborators from community organizations have helped make The Commons on MLK a reality; from funders such as the City of Eugene, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Meyer Memorial Trust, Network of Oregon Affordable Housing, and PeaceHealth, to Tax Credit Investors like US Bank, Wells Fargo, Enterprise, and Banner Bank.
Construction will be completed in January 2021, bringing 51 residents into their new space. The project will operate as Housing-First, ensuring safe housing of individuals before they connect to other services. Housing-First is a proven best practice, as it allows individuals more stability and choice through their journey. The first floor of The Commons will consist of support services for residents living in the above apartments.
For many individuals, they will be coming from a long period of homelessness and have no income. ShelterCare will provide 51 move-in kits to help ease the transition for new residents. Each kit contains basic household supplies such as dishes, plungers, pots and pans, cleaning supplies, and much more. These move-in kits still need to be funded. If you would like to get involved with funding move-in kits or volunteer to assemble move-in kits, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.