What is the Kenton Women’s Village (KWV)?
The Kenton Women’s Village, previously known as the POD Village, is a limited duration pilot project approved by the neighborhood for up to 14 homeless female-identified people to each house a micro-housing sleeping pod designed by local architecture firms on a transitional basis in a village-style community with oversight and ongoing support from a contracted non-profit, Catholic Charities.
The KNA held a neighborhood-wide vote on the project at the General Meeting on March 8th of 2017 where the village was overwhelmingly approved by the neighborhood for one year. The KWV officially opened that June.
Where is the site for the Village?
The address of the site is 2221 N Argyle St. The property is owned by Prosper Portland, previously known as the Portland Development Commission.
Prosper Portland has approved a deal to sell the land to Transition Projects Inc. (TPI) for them to develop a low-income housing project on the site. This deal had been in the works prior to the advent of the KWV and is conditional on TPI securing funding.
Is there any documentation?
Who is organizing this project?
The project is a collaboration between the City of Portland (COP), the Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS), Catholic Charities (CC) and the Village Coalition (VC). Allied community partners include Portland State University’s Center for Public Interest Design (CPID), City Repair, the KNA and Kenton Business Association (KBA).
What infrastructure and services are included in this village?
Besides the 14 dwelling units for single occupancy, the following services are offered:
● Permanent housing placement assistance
● Use of a small transitional dwelling
● Shared food storage, preparation, and dining facilities
● Shared facilities for toilets, sanitation, and hygiene
● Regular trash collection
● A mailbox and address
● Community meetings and social events
● Conflict resolution, including mediation
● On-site leadership development and educational programming, including
proactive systems for building affinity and collaboration
● Integrated case management
● Addiction treatment referrals
● Mental health treatment referrals
● Smoking cessation support
How is this governed?
Beyond CC being the administrative and fiscal services provider, the village mostly uses a self-governance model comprised of a general assembly of residents, resident stewards, a staff liaisons from CC, a trained crisis intervention team and a steering committee of JOHS, COP, VC, residents, KNA and CC.
Is the village working?
While the KWV as a pilot project has had its share of trials and tribulations as organizers have worked through various hurdles, the project has been very successful in meeting its main goal of transitioning residents to permanent housing.
Of 24 former and current KWV residents, 14 women have already moved from the village into permanent housing with the assistance of Catholic Charities case managers. A second cohort are now rotating through the village.
“It’s a journey for each of them,” says Margie Dechenne, program manager at Catholic Charities Housing Transitions Program. “The secret sauce in this is the sisterhood they have found, the friendships, the ability to be safe and secure, to engage with our case managers, and to contribute back to their community. They are so very grateful to the Kenton neighborhood for this opportunity.”
The average age of the villagers is 47.5, and the average time they had been homeless is 4.5 years with a range of 1 to 20 years.
Before joining KWV
- 18 women had no reliable transportation
- 10 had no personal identification
- 6 had no way to receive a phone call
- 19 had no regular income
- 7 had no health insurance
- 16 had significant interactions with hospitals, emergency rooms, and ambulance transports
- 16 reported not going for medical treatment when they felt ill
- 20 reported having serious health issues
Since joining KWV
- 20 receive monthly bus passes
- 15 have personal identification
- 6 have received free phones
- 12 are enrolled in benefits programs
- 5 are receiving financial wellness coaching
- 7 are enrolled in Rent Well curriculum
- 3 are enrolled in a financial match saving program
- 100 % have enrolled in health insurance and have a primary care doctor with student nurses from the University of Portland also visiting twice per week
- 1 has visited a hospital’s emergency department
- 0 ambulance calls
When did this project first get announced?
The KNA was informed of the project in early December of 2016 and made the project known publicly via social media, e-news, website, news media, etc. when written documentation of the proposal was finally received.
How did KNA handle approving the project originally?
Besides reaching out to neighbors, the KNA formed an ad hoc committee based on neighborhood feedback to work with and provide input to the project organizers to further develop the proposal. This committee met multiple times, looking at topics like site planning, good neighbor agreement and village rules.
In an endorsed open letter sent to project organizers, the KNA Board reasoned that the board “needs additional and more clearly defined specifics along with the opportunity to better inform and engage our neighborhood’s residents in order to make a statement on this proposal.”
Project organizers stated that this project wouldn’t move forward without the neighborhood’s support. Hence, the KNA held a neighborhood-wide vote on the project at the General Meeting on March 8th where the village was overwhelmingly approved by the neighborhood.
What is the current status of the KWV?
The KNA Board unanimously voted to refer the question of extending the KWV beyond the initial one-year duration, which ends in June of 2018, to a neighborhood vote at the next General Meeting on June 13 from 6-8pm at DISJECTA (8371 N Interstate Ave).
While the city-owned land used for the KWV remains under contract to be sold to Transition Projects Inc (TPI) to build low-income housing, that development is running about 6 months behind schedule, allowing the opportunity for the KWV to extend its operation. The KNA Board intends for neighbors to consider approving up to another year of the KWV in case TPI experiences additional delays.
Under TPI’s current timeline, the KWV would have until roughly the end of the year if extended. The KNA Board, however, has offered the KWV a three month extension to allow normal operations to continue with enough time to wind down the project if the neighborhood votes against the extension.
All persons that are 18 and over and live, lease, rent and/or own any real property within Kenton are eligible to participate in the neighborhood vote by attending the June 13th meeting.
Where can I learn more, donate and/or volunteer?
Please head to the official website for the Kenton’s Women’s Village for more information on the village, donating, volunteering, etc.
Who can I contact?
Please contact us directly for any questions, comments, concerns, etc.