by David Gross

== An innovative program to empower and house homeless adults in the SLO area needs a little land. If you can help them find some, you’ll be doing a lot of good. ==

SLO County treats its homeless people shamefully. We have one of the highest homelessness rates in the nation, and are in the top three locations nationwide for the percentage of homeless people who are without shelter of any kind. There are thousands of people without homes in the SLO area and not much more than a hundred beds for them in shelters.

Government policy, particularly in the city of SLO, exacerbates this problem. Affordable housing is essentially banned by way of zoning, permitting, planning, and other such processes. Policies that inflate rents and property values for the benefit of landlords and property owners make keeping a roof over your head unaffordable for poor people.

Homeless people who cannot find shelter may try to sleep in their cars or in parks, but the police and sheriff’s departments will threaten and harass them if they do.

A local group called “Hope’s Village” (http://www.hopesvillageofslo.com/) is trying to put a dent in our homeless problem by creating genuinely affordable housing (that is, not the “unaffordable housing + government subsidies = ‘affordable’ housing” approach). They want to create a village of “tiny homes” — one-room cabins-on-wheels — with a central, shared kitchen/laundry/bathroom/community building.

They’ve got the money, they’ve got buy-in from the local political and law-enforcement high mucky-mucks, they’ve got volunteers ready to go, they’ve built a prototype cabin (for less than $4,000), they have a track record of getting homes for homeless people (their “RVs for Vets” program has gotten 50 people off the streets by giving them donated RVs).

There’s one thing missing before they can get this thing off the ground: a hunk of land. That’s where you come in. Here’s what they’re looking for:

* a minimum of three to five contiguous acres of relatively level ground;
* near SLO where most of the homeless services are (and near a public transit stop if not within walking distance);
* in an area with low population density (rural);
* available on a long-term low-cost lease, or as a donation;
* with (or near) a water & sewage hook-up;
* (bonus) a good location for a food garden.

If you know of any leads — maybe you’ve got a plot yourself that fits these specs, or you know someone who does, or you’ve got a good way of getting the word out to local land-owners — please let me know, or contact the director of Hope’s Village, Becky Jorgenson, at [email protected] or 805-234-5478.

Thanks for your attention.

David Gross

Click photo for link to hopesvillage or here: