Kenton Women’s Village FAQ

UPDATE: The KWV is being transitioned to a long-term project at a new site, dubbed KWV 2.0. This page is being updated to reflect these changes.

What is the Kenton Women’s Village (KWV)?

The Kenton Women’s Village, first known as the POD Village, was originally 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. In June of 2018, the KNA held a 2nd vote with near unanimous approval to grant the KWV up to another year of operation.

In the late summer of 2018, plans were revealed to move the KWV to a nearby location and establish it as a permanent project, being called KWV 2.0, with better infrastructure and increased capacity.

Where is the site for the Village?

The current 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 will be breaking ground in early 2019.

KWV 2.0 will be established at 2420 N Columbia Blvd, which just down N Argyle from the location of the KWV. This land is owned by the Bureau of Environmental Services and isn’t eligible for commercial development due to its use for sewer lines.

Is there any documentation?

● Working Village Manual
Initial Proposal
Final Good Neighbor Agreement (Partnership Agreement)
● Draft Screening Process
Draft Community Agreement

Who is organizing this project?

is publicly funded by the Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS) with Catholic Charities (CC) being contracted to provide property and case management for the KWV. Community partners have included 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, City of Portland, 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.

Based on numbers from early 2018, 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

Since joining KWV

How did KNA handle approving the project originally in early 2017?

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.

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, 2017, where the village was overwhelmingly approved by the neighborhood.

What is the current status of the KWV?

With TPI moving forward, the KWV will no longer be able to use its current site after January, 2019, so JOHS has decided to move the KWV to 2420 N Columbia Blvd and establish it as a permanent project.

This new iteration, being called KWV 2.0, will roll out in two phases on city-owned land that isn’t eligible for commercial development with work beginning in the fall of 2018. Using the same transitional housing model, KWV 2.0 will feature 20 micro-housing sleeping pods, 6 or so of which would be reused from the original site, and improved community facilities and infrastructure like running water, sewer and electricity.

Phase 1 – estimated completion by January 31st, 2019

Installation of electrical hookups at each pod location and buildout of infrastructure needed for Phase 2 under a tight deadline using mostly professional contractors. The best performing pods will be moved from the current location, along with the existing kitchen and bath facilities.

Should any delays arise, Catholic Charities/JOHS will provide interim accommodations for KWV residents.

Phase 2 – expected completion Spring 2019

The city will complete all remaining infrastructure projects, including sidewalks. Catholic Charities will move in additional pods based on the most successful design. Kitchen and bathrooms will be replaced with enlarged and improved facilities. Walkways, gardens and other projects will be installed. Phase 2 will welcome community engagement and volunteering!

Why isn’t KWV 2.0 subject to neighborhood approval?

JOHS made the decision that the KWV wouldn’t be subject to neighborhood approval if it were to become a long-term project with significant public investment. This decision was not subject to any discussion with the KNA and/or public.

Did the KNA know the move to 2420 N Columbia Blvd was coming? 

While JOHS had stated that they were looking for sites for villages across the city, the KNA had never been provided any specifics and assumed the project would come to a conclusion as was originally intended. After a period of silence from organizers of the KWV after TPI had announced they were moving forward, the KNA  pressured organizers of the KWV to have a meeting in August, 2018. CC was given permission by the city to tell the KNA that JOHS was looking at moving the KWV to 2420 N Columbia Blvd. The KNA went public with the information a few days later when JOHS provided the KNA with a written statement.

Where can I learn more, donate and/or get involved?

Please head to the official website for the Kenton’s Women’s Village for more information on the village, donating and volunteering.

As for engagement with the development of KWV 2.0, weekly meetings are being held on Mondays from 4 to 5pm at the Historic Kenton Firehouse. Neighbors are encouraged to attend. Contact Caitlin Burke at caitlin.burke@multco.us for more details.

Who can I contact?

Please contact us directly for any questions, comments, concerns, etc.

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