The Conestoga Hut Micro-Shelter is a quick shelter option for people who’re homeless. Unfortunately, every community in the US is facing lack of housing for people facing homelessness.
A non-profit organization in Eugene, Oregon named Community Supported Shelters came up with the idea to create innovative shelters that they named Conestoga Huts.
The name comes from the hut’s similarity to the covered wagons that were used in the exploration of the American West.
Could these huts be a good solution to the homelessness problem?
Conestoga Huts, a Viable Solution for Homelessness
The hut offers 60 feet square of living space and comes with a 3-feet porch and a built-in bed.
The huts are usually made from modular and recycled elements that are easy for transport and installation at sites that are operated by churches or service clubs.
One hut costs approximately $2500 and the operating cost for a 20-hut shelter site requires around $50,000 yearly.
These huts are durable and viable shelters unlike tents under an overpass. What’s great about them is that they can be easily transported and placed on required sites.
70 of these huts have been placed in Eugene and Springfield, OR and 31 have been placed in Walla Walla, WA.
Some of these sites are CSS-operated and others are operated by non-profits or faith-based groups which buy the huts from CSS.
What Is the Success of the CSS Program Owed to?
A major role in the success of this program plays the organization’s detailed governance model which sets out the expectations and rules for the residents of the sites which they operate.
Other organizations are allowed to adopt their own set of rules; however, the ultimate goal is to offer these huts as transitional shelters that will help move the residents towards stability, hope, and empowerment.
A homeless resident can stay in the hut for 30 days, but their stay can be prolonged by additional 6 months and then 3 more months if they make progress, for a total of 10 months.
The residents of the camp site have a requirement of vacating it between 10 am and 4 pm and their belongings are kept secure behind a locked fence.
This gives the homeless people an incentive to leave the site and look for treatment, employment or needed services.
All residents have to do monthly check-ins and they also have camp duties and site upkeeping roles.
If these rules aren’t respected, the resident will be evicted from the site.
City of Eugene’s Fight against Homelessness
Indeed, the City of Eugene is a national leader in homelessness addressing. In 2013, the Ordinance No.20517 allowed the city to tackle homelessness using creative ways.
They have several programs for homeless people currently active.
For example, the Rest Stop program that allows for up to 20 individuals to sleep overnight in tents managed by an organization or an agency and the Dusk to Dawn program which gives homeless people the opportunity to pass the night at pre-approved areas that are mostly owned or leased by a non-profit organization or a faith group.