Shelter is a basic human need, yet it’s something millions of people go without every day.
That’s why a group of Oregon volunteers resolved to do something to change that fact. Community Supported Shelters is a nonprofit that is focused on supplying low-cost housing solutions to their neighbors in need.
Erik de Buhr of Eugene, Oregon, designed a temporary shelter called the Conestoga Hut. The name comes from the Conestoga wagons, which once carried settlers across the U.S. to the western states.
While these creative shelters may resemble tiny houses, they are thousands of dollars cheaper and can be put together in just a few hours instead of days.
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“They are weatherproof,” Erik explained. “They’re insulated. They’re lockable, which is really important because a lot of people on the street lose their stuff.”
Each Conestoga Hut has about 60 square feet of living space inside. They’re mold-resistant, and the lockable window and door provide a safe, secure place to sleep. Each one costs just $2,500 to make, whereas tiny homes can cost as much as $20,000.
Having a warm place to settle down for the night and lock up their belongings during the day makes a world of difference to those in need. Oregon has approved five parking lots throughout Eugene and Walla Walla where people can sleep overnight in cars, tents, or Conestoga Huts. These areas are a “safe zone” for anyone who would otherwise have nowhere to go.
Volunteers like Jim Schmidt hope that having a secure place to stay will give homeless individuals the stability they need to get back on their feet. Jim has pitched in to build Conestoga Huts in each city-approved lot.
“Giving them a little bit of a helping hand — people who have fallen on difficult times — that’s all we’re doing,” he said.
James Clapp lives in a Conestoga Hut village for veterans and said the security of having shelter has helped him prepare to make permanent changes in his living situation.
“I would say this place pretty much saved my life,” he explained. “Where I’m going to go from here? I’m looking for new employment opportunities.”
Another success story is a man named Jeff Howard. He was able to get his own apartment after living in a Conestoga Hut. “It was fantastic. It gave me a stable place to operate from,” he said. “Just having a safe, secure place is amazing. It’s life-changing.”
These clever huts provide so much more than shelter; they’re also giving their residents hope! After all, when our basic needs are met, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish!
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