The houses may be tiny but the dream never was and on Tuesday, Jan. 15, the Lane County Commission helped Cottage Village Coalition (CVC) make a giant leap in seeing that dream be-come a reality.
“Our group has been working long and hard to achieve this vision. We couldn’t be more excited by this affirmation of our work by our county leaders,” said CVC President Bruce Kelsh about the decision by the commission to award the group $500,000 through a Housing Improvement Plan grant.
The award was part of a larger $2 million grant award for Lane County housing projects.
“Approving SquareOne Villages’ grant application for Cottage Village will make a tremendous impact by providing the much-needed housing for low to extremely low income individuals in Cottage Grove,” Mayor Jeff Gowing wrote in support of the group’s grant application.
CVC partnered with SquareOne Villages — a nonprofit based in Eugene — nearly two years ago to explore the possibility of building a community made up of tiny houses that closely followed the neighborhood models developed by SquareOne in Eugene for low-income and homeless individuals. The community located on Madison Ave. in Cottage Grove will consist of 13 tiny homes, a caretaker’s home and a community space located in an existing storage shelter on the property.
Last month, construction at the site began under the new county provisions that allow accessory dwellings on property where a house already exists. Because the caretaker’s house was al-ready on the Madison property when CVC and SquareOne Villages purchased it, the first tiny home would qualify as an accessory dwelling. According to Kelsh, that house will serve as a model to help garner additional donors to the project.
“We are not only pleased with the tremendous support shown by the Cottage Grove community for this project,” said SquareOne President Dan Bryant, “but also that Lane County is partnering with us to demonstrate a model for how to do very affordable, high quality housing of this type in a rural community where the need is just as great as in cities like Eugene but resources are often harder to come by.”
Currently, there’s no set timeline for construction begin on the remaining 12 houses but CVC is optimistic that the community could be completed by the end of 2019. There is also no set procedure in place for accepting applications for possible residents for Cottage Village.
However, SquareOne and CVC have noted that a neighborhood selection committee would be formed to help screen applicants and that individuals who currently live in Cottage Grove would be given preference during the process. In order to qualify for a tiny house, individuals must adhere to a financial requirement and an ability to live within a community agreement model.
Cottage Villages will address just a small portion of the housing crisis in the city. Nationally, housing prices — including rental rates — have been increasing. The city, with the use of a third- party company, conducted a housing analysis this year that determined the city would need to construct new housing units to keep up with population growth; two months ago, the city’s population reached 10,000.
The county commission also awarded $250,000 to a project being captained by the American Legion, Homes for Good and the city of Cottage Grove. The money will go towards the development that will feature four tiny homes that will serve homeless veterans referred to the project by the St. Vincent DePaul Vet LIFT program.
Construction on the project is expected to start in the fall of this year.