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GRM Podcast Episode 3: Are Tiny Houses a Solution?

By August 25, 2017Podcasts
Brian Bouteller

About Brian Bouteller

Brian Bouteller is the Mission's Director of Resident Services.

2 Comments

  • Malcolm Drake says:

    Re Gospel audio.

    Several good points: don’t make it too comfortable to remain in poverty.

    As far as destroying property values, I have mixed feelings. I’ve actually tried to convince the powers that be to allow me to build high class, low cost rentals on five acres I own inside the UGB. Got a big NO.

    Aren’t Christians the ones we’d expect to go out of their way to accept others-those who are in need-into their neighborhoods?

    Doesn’t it make sense to offer homeless people, basically, something clean, safe, and dry? They can still go to your organization, or others, for counseling, if they want. But meanwhile, at least they won’t die of exposure.

    And having plumbing facilities would help protect OUR public health. A big problem we have been experiencing for quite a long time is business people being greeted by piles of S**T outside their doors every morning,which they have the privilege of cleaning up. This is an UNhealthy situation.

    I’ll bet these small houses could probably be built using all volunteers, including able bodied recipients of the houses.

    A big roadblock to these small houses is zoning. Generally speaking, only one dwelling is allowed on most of our lots in grants pass. The exception is land zoned for multiple housing, which I’M TOLD, is in short supply.

    One other issue you didn’t address, but which I believe may be a big deal, is that, if we offer free small housing to the homeless, the homeless may move here from other locations. Maybe we could minimize this possibility by requiring residents to pay rent. Rent would, by rights, be very low (based on the square footage you cited)

    I wonder if you’ve researched how well small housing has worked out, in other cities; I’ve personally only heard lots of anecdotal evidence about these things.

    As far as your point that you always have at least 20 empty beds, there must be a reason why nobody is showing up to fill them. Do you know what the problem(s) is? Do people think you’re trying to change their religion to match yours?

    I certainly wish I had a reasonable solution to this issue. I think lack of decent jobs is likely one issue. Let’s reflect all the labor saving devices being used in the workplace by cutting the “work week” from 40 hours to 32, or even 24. Yes, there would be lots of issues to address, but maybe it’s worth investigating.

    Gotta run; I’m going to see if I can find your
    KMED interview.

    Cheers,

    Malcolm Drake
    Rural joco

  • Brian Bouteller says:

    Hello Malcolm!

    Thanks for taking the time to give some articulate feedback! It’s really appreciated. Hopefully I can address the bulk of your questions. I will place them in quotation marks to make sure I’ve got them correctly. Here goes…

    “Aren’t Christians the ones we’d expect to go out of their way to accept others-those who are in need-into their neighborhoods?” – Yes and no. Yes Christians can generally be expected to go out of their way to accept others in need, which is why there are so many Gospel Rescue Missions around the country. Not many agnostic, atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, etc., rescue missions… but lots of Gospel Rescue Missions. This doesn’t mean that those who don’t do such things are not good or not nice people, but that it simply isn’t a necessary part of their worldview. Christians see care for the broken as a necessary part of how they worship Jesus. No, because Christians should recognize that to love a stranger in a way that is detrimental to the rest of their neighbors is unfair and unloving. So for me to invite all the hungry homeless into my neighborhood for free food (for example) resulting in trash being left on my neighbors property, personal belongings being stolen from their yards or vandalized, and creating an environment that makes it unsafe for their children to play in the yard, now I have become unloving to my neighbors in the name of “accepting those in need”.

    So we Christians are in a dilemma here that is a hard one to think through. We know this first hand at the GRM as we have received plenty of complaints from the neighbors claiming that we have made the problem worse in our neighborhood, and we do all we can to attempt to rectify the problems we unintentionally created. We also want to not see the same mistakes repeated. That said, it is certainly possible that an entire neighborhood could come together and collectively say that they are willing to take the risk, and provided that they are willing to fund good, long-term management of such a project, it may be worth a shot.

    “And having plumbing facilities would help protect OUR public health. A big problem we have been experiencing for quite a long time is business people being greeted by piles of S**T outside their doors every morning,which they have the privilege of cleaning up. This is an UNhealthy situation.”

    Yes, and it is far worse than most people realize. Every year I go to battle with chasing a never ending group of people who continuously set up camp next to Gilbert Creek, right next to the Mission. They leave all kinds of trash along the creek and place tremendous burden on the city to clean it up. On at least one occasion an addict that was using by the creek tossed their used needle over the fence into our children’s playground. A child was pricked by the needle and had to begin HIV treatment until the hospital could determine the exposure. This isn’t even close to the worst of locations in town, and it has to stop.
    No one volunteers to help clean it up, including those who made the mess. The city of GP does it. Sometimes using Community Corrections, sometimes just paid staff.

    “As far as your point that you always have at least 20 empty beds, there must be a reason why nobody is showing up to fill them. Do you know what the problem(s) is? Do people think you’re trying to change their religion to match yours?”

    We have repeatedly asked those on the street the question in a variety of ways. Our most common response is “I wouldn’t go there… they have too many rules!” While we do ask residents to become very familiar with Christianity, after all it is Christians who are offering to take care of them, we never demand acceptance of or agreement with Christianity. We recognize that a forced conversion to any idea, Christianity included, is no conversion at all. Very few of our rules are uniquely or distinctly Christian anyway. They are simply those rules that the vast majority of society employs to keep civility every day.
    So we ask the same question, why would you insist on camping in the bushed 20 yards from the Mission exposed to the weather, leaving a filthy mess for our fellow citizens to clean up, when for a some changes in behavior you can have 3 hot meals each day, your laundry done for you twice each week, a clean bed and daily hot shower? The typical response is that they couldn’t drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, use drugs, and would be expected to work, so they’d rather live outside.

    As for the question about research, “I wonder if you’ve researched how well small housing has worked out, in other cities” the answer is yes. I sited a couple of studies already in this podcast.  http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-tiny-houses-seized-20160224-story.html
    and http://www.baylorisr.org/wp-content/uploads/ISR-Homeless-FINAL-01092017-web.pdf
    However in fairness, there is quite a bit of research also in favor of the housing first model, most of the current and favorable research is on the federal Housing and Urban Development website. The “tiny houses” idea is still new enough that no long term data really exists.

    Provided that it was planned with paid, long term, professional case management, and that it addressed potential concerns of all in a neighborhood, I would be open to the idea. Unfortunately such a program hasn’t been presented, but one can always hope.
    In the mean time, there is a Gospel Rescue Mission with plenty of space for those who would truly like to change their lives and that costs the tax payer nothing.

    Thank you again for the respectful discussion!

    GRM

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