What does the future of homelessness look like? 

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there were 564,708 homeless people in the United States in 2016. These numbers have been steadily decreasing thanks to programs like “A Place for You”.

Portland, Oregon may have a plan to decrease the number of homeless families in the city. Multnomah County Idea Lab plans to initiate a proposal to curb homelessness with their “A Place for You” program. The program consists of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) commonly referred to as “pods”. The pods will be installed in the backyards of homeowners willing to give a homeless family a roof over their heads for up to five years.

These 200-square-foot pods, each unique in design, come equipped with a bed, shelves, a desk, toilet and complete plumbing. Pods can house up to one adult and two children comfortably. Each pod costs about $75,000, which is paid for through government funding and private donations.

Approximately 200 homeowners have expressed interest in the “A Place for You” program to house homeless families in backyard pods. Four homeowners have been selected to pilot this initiative. The homeowners will not pay for the cost of construction and would be the landlord(s) of the pod. Homeowners will be offered tax abatement for the years that the pod is on their property. After the five years, they will have unrestricted access to the pod. The homeowners will also be able to increase their social networking, community building and hope for a more sustainable and innovative Portland.

As for the four families that are using the pods, they will stay rent-free for five years and will receive social services assistance provided by the county. Homeless families are referred through “A Home for Everyone”. The pods will likely be placed at homes that are within close proximity to necessary resources such as public schools, public transportation, grocery stores and day care centers. This program is expected to launch this coming summer.

Food for Thought: Can ideas like backyard pods be a solution for ending homelessness?

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