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The Dignity of Tiny

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I appreciate Thadeus Greenson bringing light to the conundrum of Eureka's homeless population ("Push and Pull," Feb. 18). The declaration of a "shelter crisis" by the city council relaxes zoning and other ordinances to allow legal, temporary occupation of some city properties. Is there a plan to shelter in some of these areas? Secure camping or legal car camping, with the addition of water and toilet facilities, could help people stay safe, warm and dry for the rest of the winter.

The consulting service, Focus Strategies, does not recommend "sanctuary camps" as a solution but wants to place people in Eureka's existing rentals. This depends on cooperative landlords, low rents and availability. Will rent be subsidized on an ongoing basis? How many people can be housed in this plan and how long will it take?

While Housing First is in the works, sanctuary camps could be set up fairly quickly under the mandates of the shelter crisis. Homeless advocacy group Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives has written a detailed plan for a sanctuary camp at a relatively low cost. Because homelessness is at its root a failure of our economic system, every community in this nation is struggling for a solution.

I have visited the sanctuary camps and tiny house villages in Oregon and Washington and was impressed with the self-regulating communities I found there. Poverty was apparent but also the dignity of having a place to call home. It is a great time to rethink our concepts of "house" or "village." AHHA recently showcased models of tiny houses, built for just a few thousand dollars. They also put up a model of a sanctuary camp village, reminiscent of the way native people lived on the California coast 200 years ago. I would like to see all options on the table, consulting with those in need of shelter about their needs. The solutions might be simpler than we think.

Peg Anderson, Redway


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