We're Building Care Shelters As A Way Forward for Houseless Neighbors

A Care Shelter is a small structure that offers warmth, rest, safety & security. It’s cost-effective, lockable, comfortable, efficient, functional, home-like and can provide a first stable shelter for someone.

two men placing a wall on a care shelter build

Care Shelters are a safe, personal space for residents of a village that provides stability, opportunity, and basic needs such as food, hygiene and support and foster community and a sense of belonging. These support communities are essential to the success of the people getting into permanent housing.

Eugene, OR, with 432 homeless persons for every 100,000 residents, has the highest number of homeless per capita in the country -- the national average is only 170. (Source) This has led to several programs to help house those without houses, which has included stopping police sweeps of certain areas where houseless people are allowed to camp, according to law. There is also a movement in Eugene to provide health care for folks living on the streets.

Meanwhile, tiny house villages are being built in Eugene to provide actual homes to people who want and need them.

Mitchell Walzer is a General Contractor in Eugene, OR. Seeing the need and wanting to help the high population of people without houses, Mitchell designs and builds shelters to assist the houseless to have a home.

But Mitchell's dream is larger than just building some homes: "My hope is to co-create sustainable, self-managed communities that foster self-care and community connection."

mitchell walzer general contractor and project leader

Mitchell has been volunteering and working with organizations doing this work for years, but there is more work to do. Mitchell continues to learn from and support these organizations' efforts by adding to the important work they do.

care shelter design from above
care shelter number two by mitchell walzer

For a resident, Care Shelters will give them a private, safe place to inhabit, helping to restore their dignity and have a taste of living in a home. For the greater community, building a village would shift the burden of homelessness to a more sustainable way to uplift people. On a global scale, sharing an open-source model for shelters and communities can help other people seeking something more stable than a tent on the sidewalk.

CommonGoods Network has helped provide houseless people with access to necessities before. In 2015, the Kindista Holiday Free Market "Buy Nothing Day" was a free public event in Eugene which included people experiencing houselessness, like JD, seen here with our then-volunteer, now-executive director, Emily.

Kindista.org is a CommonGoods Network project offering an online platform for local communities to share and receive freely. Buy Nothing Day brought Kindista and CommonGoods' spirit of generosity and gratitude to life, with free workshops, music, healing, food, and clothing and other items - all given freely and received with gratitude.

One of the attendees was a houseless man named JD who'd lost his bike that morning while sleeping outside of the event venue. It turns out someone brought a bike that day, destined for JD!

homeless man with a peace sign in thanks for the new bike he is receiving from kindista holiday free market 2015 with volunteer

Many houseless people also need the support of community for food, counseling, training, mental health and more. Getting people into shelter is essential to starting this process. This Care Shelters project will do this, while benefiting the city and raising the quality of life for all who live in and visit Eugene.

two men starting to lift a wall into place on a care shelter build
three men smiling in front of a built care shelter on a sunny day

"The dream is to create a more just, compassionate and peaceful world."

For houseless people like JD, a safe, secure shelter is a crucial step toward deeper healing and growth. Providing Care Shelters and community support for people experiencing houselessness is one step we can take.

If you would like to get in touch about how you can support this project, please reach out.

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