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Stabler, warmer tents designed for Harbor of Hope are being road tested now before being mass produced for future Portland homeless camps.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - Front view of a rigid tent designed by LIT Workshop of Portland for Homer Williams's charity Harbor of Hope, in a camp under the I-405 ramp at Northwest 16th Ave and Quimby recently. Half a dozen of them are being field tested. If they are a hit they will join the new, quick assembly tiny home arranged in pods on city owned land in June.

Homer Williams' nonprofit Harbor of Hope distributed "one to two thousand tents last year," the former developer told the Portland Tribune on Wednesday.

"They don't work," Williams declared. They leak, the fabric is no protection against being hit from outside, they blow over and they can't be locked.

So, he commissioned LIT Workshop in Northwest Portland to design and fabricate rigid tents. These are 70 pound structures with insulated floors, solar panels, and a lockable door. They are the size of a two-person tent and have a translucent end section for privacy and allowing in light.

"You could hit it with a baseball bat, you can't hurt anybody inside," he said. "You have enough room for two people and a pet and their belongings."

Williams said that starting in January, the organization put six of the rigid tents around town to see how they are used. They say "Harbor of Hope" on the side and look like tiny versions of the Navigation Center at the west end of the Broadway Bridge between Front Avenue and the railroad.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - A rigid tent designed by LIT Workshop of Portland for Homer Williams's charity Harbor of Hope, in a camp under the 1-405 ramp at Northwest 16th Ave and Quimby recently. Half a dozen of them are being field tested. If they are a hit they will join the new, quick assembly tiny home arranged in pods on city owned land in June. More are coming, but will be in pods, not randomly on the street.

"We're putting these out to get feedback…You will see in the video, what we consider a complete solution." They will see how people use them, then when the pods open, people can ask for them.

Willaims said they are no use without a bathroom, showers and laundry facilities. "We want people in environments where they can get a good night's sleep. The streets are not a safe place. They create their own little groups. We just want groups in a better environment."

Williams says his nonprofit's fabric tents from previous years are all over town.

"You'll see them, orange, green, light green….We gave out a couple thousand sleeping bags, and tens of thousands of masks."

Harbor of Hope aims to help homeless people where they most urgently need it. So if passing out tents enabled people to take one step up from sleeping in a doorway and move to a patch of grass or sidewalk, a rigid tent is a step up from a flimsy fabric one. Eventually, Williams would like people to transition to tiny homes in pods or communities, and then to affordable housing.

The rigid tents are part of Harbor of Hope's new four prong approach to helping the homeless community:

  • Managed communities on city owned land, potentially coming in June 2021 with pop-up tiny homes that can be constructed in just 15 minutes and are much cheaper than the tiny homes built in other villages.
  • Home Share Oregon, launched in July 2020, an Airbnb-style organization that finds empty rooms in homes and rents them at affordable rates for people transitioning from the streets.
  • Converting motel rooms into affordable housing by rapidly adding a kitchen.
  • The Navigation Center, which opened in 2019, for assessing people's medical, work and housing needs and giving them a place to stay for up to 90 days.
  • A previous story on William's plan can be found here.

    Oregon Harbor of Hope

    1616 NW 13th Ave

    (503) 860-4181

    https://oregonharborofhope.org/


    Joseph Gallivan
    Reporter, The Business Tribune
    971-204-7874
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