City & Government, Creswell

City hears pitch for homeless residency, resource center

Creswell’s R. Vicente Rubio last week proposed to Creswell City Council a way to help the homeless – or the ”disenfranchised” as he prefers to identify them as – by pitching the idea of a residency and resource center here in town.
The idea: To build a residency and resource center on city-owned land for the homeless, ”to provide the necessary support therapies, enriching activities, healthy dietary nourishment and a safe empowering living area to heal, flourish and prosper in.”
Rubio moved to Creswell a few years ago from Hawaii, a state where 46 in every 10,000 Hawaiian residents are homeless – the highest count in the nation, according to the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. As a result, the Oahu island recreated a space for their disenfranchised, Rubio said, and he’s using that idea as a springboard for his proposal.
Rubio has been working with ”the underbelly of society” for 37 years as an advocate for both children and adults. Among other fitness and wellness classes in town, Rubio also hosts a class called ”Coffee, Doughnuts and Meditation” twice a week for the homeless at the Creswell Community Center, where he helps to build up their self-esteem and life skills.
He said from those meetings, he’s learned that many of the homeless are homegrown and have resided in Creswell the majority of their lives; they went to high school here, were married here, had a life in Creswell, but ultimately ended up without a home or a family.
There’s also many homeless children in town. According to a 2017-18 Homeless Student Data state study, there are 70 homeless students enrolled in the Creswell School District; 47 homeless students enrolled in Pleasant Hill School District; and 100 homeless students enrolled in South Lane School District, in grades kindergarten through 12th.
What’s more, is Creswell does not have resources implemented for the homeless population in town.
”There is nothing here in Creswell that is sufficient enough for these individuals to even take showers on a regular basis – neither church provided nor community-provided,” Rubio said. ”There is no space in town for anyone to sleep where they can.”’
Rubio’s vision, possibly to be called the Lokai Residency and Resource Center of Creswell, means ”a place of enlightenment,” in Hawaiian.

The first component of this project would be constructing cottage-sized, one-to-two occupancy living spaces built upon a trailer, dubbed ”’cottages-on-wheels.” These spaces would be built by carpenters and the homeless individuals themselves, Rubio said.
Rubio visualizes a city-owned location with five-to-10 acres, space enough for 20 spaces and 20 cottages-on-wheels. In the first phase of construction, only 10 cottages would be built, with 10 empty spaces available for future occupancy, according to the proposal.
Ten units would cost roughly $295,300 in total, respectively, and includes indoor plumbing. It would take a month to build one unit, Rubio said, with 10 units to be completed in 10 months.
Rubio would be the senior lead carpenter, and there would be a secondary carpenter. They would have four paid apprentices who would be homeless individuals, some of which were at the city council meeting during the proposal. The apprentices would be given both training and an opportunity to work for $10 an hour. Other material and labor costs for the entire project and maintenance is still being gathered and will be available in the future, according to the proposal.
”This project involves the opportunity for these guys to reboot lives, for them to work and function,” Rubio said. He said he wants people to realize these are citizens of the community, ”not people coming from Springfield or Eugene. These are people who grew up and lived in Creswell….they (the disenfranchised) have names – maybe you don’t want to know their names, but they’re citizens of our town,” Rubio said.
The second component to this vision is to create a main building on the property to house programs and support systems.
Rubio envisions a center with career path classes, employment training, dietary and health programs, therapy and support programs – tools to help the homeless pick themselves up by their bootstraps.
This concept of career path training will allow the sharpening and honing skills in a supportive learning environment that leads to success, the proposal reads.
The proposal also seeks one central building that would house four auxiliary showers; changing rooms; two toilets; a central commercial-grade kitchen and storage; a dining hall/meditation hall; three small rooms for in-house services for therapies and health practices; and more.
There would be five acres designated for farming and husbandry usage, as well as one barn/service building; one metal building for farming tools; one metal building for carpentry; and parking.
”How a city of under 6,000 can support their homeless and disenfranchised can be a model for small cities across the states,” Rubio said.
The homelessness conversation will continue at upcoming city council meetings. The next meeting is Monday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. in City Hall.



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