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Permanent Villages
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Permanent Villages

Precedents and possibilities for 'permanent' village-type housing, particularly in Oregon and Portland. this article is part of the Village Buildings book / article collection.

Last updated:  03 July 2021.

Document owner:  HousingWiki
Editor(s): Tim McCormick t
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Meeting agendas/notes

2021-05-27 Build Small Coalition

Reform initiatives

Residential Infill Project Part 2, in Portland


Dome Village, LA

Dignity Village, Portland

Quixote Village, Olympia

Community First! Village, Austin

Emerald Village, Eugene

Tiny Homes Detroit

Veterans' Villages

Sand Point Cottages, Seattle

Pu’uhonua, Oahu

Cottage Village, Cottage Grove




'Permanent' in this context can mean various things.

These may be somewhat ambiguous, e.g. villages may have leases / community agreements to occupy their sites, and there may be varying expectations or likelihoods of how long such agreements may continue.

Site duration: in some cases a village may be established with a very firm expectation of limited duration, e.g. 2 years; in others, it might be a "development site" where the village is an interim use until a later permanent development occurs, but this could be delayed due to financing or economic downturn etc. At the other extreme are sites like Dignity Village which operate with a renewable lease from the city, but this has been going since 2001 and there is a perceived high likelihood of it continuing indefinitely.

Residency duration: villages typically fall into one of three categories, which reflect legal norms, HUD policies, and operating agreements that villages may have with their jurisdictions:

Nonetheless, residency limits may not be strictly enforced, and there may be provisions such that resident managers/staff may stay longer term. At Dignity Village, Portland, it's reported that some residents have stayed 10+ years -- which could be considered a success or a failing, depending on point of view.

Meeting agendas/notes / news

2021-07-03 Safe Rest Villages ordinance

friend Rachael Haggerty wrote:

"  Tim McCormick, thoughts?"

I think, basically, too little, too slow, and mostly missing the larger need and opportunity to create rapid, low-cost, long-term housing.

Also, in my opinion advocates and media need to get beyond continual focus on the fear that some houseless people may be impelled  to move from some public spaces. I understand the trauma and brutality of denying the most marginalized people space to live in, but it isn't in my view a necessary or legally/politically achievable demand that all public spaces be allowed such use. This isn't how we manage public spaces or land use generally.

my spoken testimony on this item at Portland City Council, Weds June 30th, 2021 (AM session):

(starting 2:37:35, 3 minutes).

I was loosely testifying on agenda Item 519, "Safe Rest Villages" city ordinance, which passed by unanimous vote later in meeting. I didn't particularly comment on this ordinance, but generally remarked:

1) there was no engagement by city councilmembers or the Streets to Stability taskforce (which developed this ordinance, drafted last week and first publicly discussed today) with PDX Shelter Forum or me at all. Despite us being in respects the largest & most active houseless-led/centered advocacy group in Portland, regarding village & shelter issues. Also, despite our constant effort over the past year to engage councilmembers and staff via many channels - phone calls, emails, meeting requests, repeated invitations to all councilmembers' office to join our public forums and online web/email forum.

2. I don't agree with key points in the proposal as presented, eg the focus strictly on "chronic homeless" with over two years of unsheltered homelessness. The overwhelming majority of people experiencing houselessness do not fit this category.

3. I argue that the real need, if these issues are being taken seriously, is 10,000s of additional, low cost, low barrier, permanent homes, as rapidly as possible.

I noted that I have with collaborators for three years developed and presented detailed, worked-through proposals for rapid low-cost housing programs to meet such scale and timeframe of need, under the name New Starter Homes (and "permanent villages"), but have encountered near total refusal on the part of city officials, staff, media, and other leaders to even discuss any such approach.

Lastly, I noted that at this point I have left Oregon because of recently being abruptly forced out of my (always tenuous) housing, and I don't know if I will be able to or choose to come back to Portland. I don't see a place I can live, and I am increasingly doubtful it is a good place for me to pursue the advocacy, research, and housing-development projects I am working and wish to work on.

Meeting agenda:



Andrea Durbin, Director of Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

Commissioner Dan Ryan

Morgan Tracy, Bureau of Planning & Sustainability, Project Manager (including for Residential Infill Project Part 2

Commissioner Sharon Meieran

2021-05-27 Build Small Coalition

Build Small Coalition:

From main group chat transcript:

Re. SB458 lot division bill:

11:05:47 Kol Peterson : Can cities opt to allow for DADUs to be partitioned?

How will cities track this (not allowing ADUs in the future?)

Cottage cluster- access to right of way?

Can the division occur prior the development of middle housing?

11:06:33 Kol Peterson : I'll say these questions verbally. But, those are the questions in writing.

11:07:43 Eli Spevak : Would this bill apply to a large subdivision proposal using a ‘cottage cluster’ code (thinking about the Alpenrose Dairy site or other large redevelopable property)?

11:07:54 Susan Brown, OMBA President, CMB : I've got to hop off.  Sorry to miss the conversation about 458.

11:10:08 Elizabeth Decker : There’s also a lot of overlap between a dwelling with ADU and a detached duplex, so maybe the ability to separate duplexes would push people to choose that option more

11:18:14 Laura Dawson Bodner (she, they) : Room 1: SB 458

Room 2: Tiny home policy, advocacy opportunities, and promotion.

Room 3: Shelter to Housing Continuum promotion/discussion

Room 4: Future educational forum

11:21:05 From Tim McCormick @tmccormick:
what do people think about the concept/term of “Permanent Village”, and of a campaign to link together efforts towards such things?

11:26:25 From Tim McCormick @tmccormick :
Kay I share the interest in cottage clusters perhaps being co-op owned. — perhaps using lot division.

11:27:34 From Kay Elmore to Tim McCormick @tmccormick (Privately):
yes, i want to stay in touch.

11:28:12 From Kay Elmore to Tim McCormick @tmccormick (Privately) :
lets continue after this mtg

11:32:58 Tim McCormick @tmccormick:
Joseph I would see the approach you mentioned — units as detached bedrooms of in effect one house — as one possible way to do a ‘village’.

11:33:25 Tim McCormick @tmccormick:
that is, ONE possible, way, with others including e.g. lot division for separately ownable small homes.

11:36:18 Tim McCormick @tmccormick:
I think it’s helpful to have some set of actual or likely sites/programs in mind, in conceiving advocacy plan — to think what proposal would cover the cases.

11:38:51 Tim McCormick @tmccormick:
my hunch is that a crucial next step to do ASAP but at the right moment, s to choreograph a meeting with the RIP2 Project Contact at BPS, Morgan Tracy.  Perhaps also with Carmen Rubio’s office, she being the Commissioner overseeing BPS.

11:39:25 Tim McCormick @tmccormick:
Project Contact: Morgan Tracy, BPS

11:42:54 Tim McCormick @tmccormick:
partly why I suggest “Permanent Village” concept is to create unifying ideas / goals which may bridge multiple code classifications and projects. Currently, parts of it are being considered as quite separate things, e.g. S2HC, cottage clusters in HB2001 / RIP2, and lot division SB458.

11:46:48 Tim McCormick @tmccormick:
by the way, this idea of a spectrum of village / cluster types is very much the viewpoint of SquareOne Villages (Eugene) / founder Andrew Heben, and his 2004 book Tent City Urbanism. I.e., idea of there being unifying ideas across that spectrum — community, self-determination, common space/facilities — which may apply to different zoning & building types.

Reform initiatives

RIP2 - Residential Infill Project Part 2

From Tim McCormick to Tiny House Industry Association's Facebook group, comment April 30 2021:

"as to what's next: I proposed PDX City Council, 2 weeks ago in live testimony, a path to build on S2HC to develop new, highly affordable & flexible housing options such as cottage-cluster villages:

In particular, I propose seeking to do this via the just-started city Residential Infill Project Part 2, (#pdxRIP2) required by state law to be implemented by Aug 2022 with by-right ("allowed use") cottage cluster & town-houses provisions in every residential area.

I've been over the last few years developing such ideas on ways Portland etc might use movable dwellings structures, transition sites and structures and people from houselesness and housing precarity into long term, stable & low-cost housing.

In that testimony, in response to a question from Mayor, I suggest as a presentation of key concepts the New Starter Homes project proposal I developed 2018-present covering aspects of this, see


right now, this and RIP2 are on approximately nobody's radar. I'm looking for ways to and help in building a campaign. For this to have a chance, we'd need to reach and work with:

1. Advocacy groups to seed, grow, turn out support: Tiny Home Industry Association, Sightline Institute, Portland: Neighbors Welcome, Sunrise Movement PDX, AARP Oregon, etc.

1. office of Commissioner Carmen Rubio, who oversees the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability;

2. other Councilmembers, officials, and staff.

3. BPS, particularly with RIP2 project lead Morgan Tracy.

4. Build Small Coalition.

4. Resourcing: right now, I am debating if this project, high in potential as I see it, is even plausible for me engage with unresourced. There's a possibility of some funding from Oregon Cooperative Housing Network ( grant proposal I recently organized, but prospects and timeframe are unclear.

I'd say to be plausible this something like a $10,000 minimum effort for me or equivalent in others work. Crowdfund, or "take up a subscription" for it as they did/said in olden days?


March 9, 2021 briefing from BPS to the citizen Planning & Sustainability Commission:

see video link here, agenda item at 1pm about 40mins in.

Project Contact: Morgan Tracy, BPS


c/ Eli Spevak Kol Peterson.

THIA article on what's next

(invited post for Tiny House Industry Association site [& newsletter?]).


Dome Village, LA

Beastie Boys' "Sure Shot" video features it.

Dignity Village, Portland

[need to research in DV materials for discussions/plans for permanent and multiple villages].

Quixote Village, Olympia 

Camp Quixote, site image from Quixote Communities

Camp Quixote, Feb 7 2007, photo by Sandy Mayes

early days, 2007- as Camp Quixote, originally  in downtown Olympia, Washington.

Kavick, Ray. "First week at Camp Quixote."  Works In Progress (Thurston County Rainbow Coalition), March 2007.

"My name is Ray Kavick, anarchist and member of the Olympia Poor People's Union (PPU). This is a short reflection on the first week of an encampment we set up in Downtown Olympia on Thursday, February 1. We called the encampment Camp Quixote..."

"During the planning meetings, it was assumed by nearly everybody that we would be at the site for an hour at most. When the first five tents went up and an hour had passed, none of us were completely sure what to do. But that soon passed, the group got together and we decided to go ahead and put as many tents and as many people on the site as quickly as possible.."

"By nightfall, the group was operating smoothly and the unity we had talked about and hoped for in the meetings was materializing. Once the fear of the police had subsided, we all threw ourselves headlong into the undertaking and the sense of excitement among the group gave us all a small, constant buzz. We were no longer doing something "illegal," we were doing what we needed to do. If something needed to be taken care of, people got up and did it. Whenever someone needed something, we gave it to them, or tried to. At the end of that day, the hope I had for the encampment multiplied exponentially.

"The next day, in our local newspaper, we were on the cover. The Olympian was telling everyone that we set up the camp to "protest" the new laws. While all of us despised the laws, we did not do this to "protest" anything. We did this to create what we needed: housing and a sense of community. But it was easier for the Olympian to label us as "protesters," something they are still doing...' "Now we're at a new spot in West Olympia, being graciously put up by the Unitarian Universalist Church. They are not dogmatic and are truly good people. While the camp is no longer Downtown where more people can get to it, we still have a safe place to go. The community and the bonds that grew out of that first week are still alive and strong. The City and their hired thugs cannot destroy the trust we all now have for each other, and that trust is the most important thing to come out of the whole endeavor. Without it, we would not be able to continue. The new camp is up and we'll be up to more mischief later. But I can't tell you any more than that. Just keep your eyes peeled."

Richards, Rob.  "A Tale of Tent Cities: A Camp Quixote Retrospective.", Oct 25, 2013.

 Butigan, Ken. "Olympia’s homeless win struggle for permanent housing." ["With the opening of Quixote Village, an innovative compound of 30 small cottages and a community center in Olympia, Wash., the six-year struggle of the homeless has finally paid off"]. Waging Nonviolence, January 3, 2014

"In 2007 members of the homeless community in Olympia, Wash., erected a tent city in a downtown parking lot to protest the lack of services and support. Predictably, the city government responded with arrests and shutting down the encampment. That was supposed to be the end of it. Camp Quixote, though, did not disappear. Instead it embarked on a challenging, circuitous journey that at times must have seemed like some 21st century version of the mad misadventures of its visionary namesake, Don Quixote. Now, against all odds, this six-year pilgrimage has paid off, and Camp Quixote has become Quixote Village: an innovative compound of 30 small cottages and a community center. On December 24, the campers moved in — homeless no more.

"Nonviolent action is often dismissed as quixotic: utopian, dreamy, pursuing unreachable goals. But this example underscores how idealism is crucial to making real and practical change, though not always in the way one first imagines. The nonviolent resistance that the homeless women and men of Olympia organized did not change city officials’ minds, but it prompted allies in the community to come forward. A local church offered space for the encampment, and public support grew. The city was persuaded to pass an ordinance to allow the camp to exist, though with the stipulation that it would have to move every three months. Other churches stepped up, and over the past six years the encampment moved over 20 times.

"The vision of the Quixote campers from the beginning was to establish permanent housing, and within a few years the group worked with local allies to establish Panza — a nonprofit organization (named in honor of Don Quixote’s more sensible sidekick, Sancho Panza), whose mission would be to build Quixote Village. Even after land was acquired and a city permit was granted — and necessary funds were raised — business interests in the area went to court to try to stop the project. "The court finally ruled in the village’s favor, the 30 houses were built and furnished, and now they are occupied and humming with life.

"Panza, the village landlord, is leasing the 2.17-acre site from the local county at $1 per year for 41 years. Village residents pay one-third of their income toward rent. Each cottage measures 150 square feet and includes a front porch, garden space and typical utilities. Two were designed to accommodate disabled residents. The community center has a kitchen, laundry facilities, showers, mailboxes and a common area. Bus service is nearby, and the local bus system has donated an eight-passenger van.

"Architects met with members of Camp Quixote during the design process, who insisted that the project build freestanding cottages. This input reflects the self-governing nature of the village, where residents “elect offers and decide who lives there based on strict criteria.”"


Lubenau, Anne-Marie. "Site Visit: A Tiny House Village in Olympia Offers a New Model for Housing the Homeless." ["Quixote Village is a self-managed community that provides permanent, supportive housing for homeless adults"]. Metropolis Magazine, April 20, 2015.

"The concept for Quixote Village emerged from a group of homeless adults that formed a self-governing tent community in a parking lot in downtown Olympia in 2007 in reaction to a new city ordinance forbidding the blocking of doorways and storefronts. After the City of Olympia threatened to remove the camp, a local church offered to host the community on its grounds. The city passed another ordinance regulating “temporary camps” and requiring the presence of onsite, 24/7 “hosts,” and the removal of the camp after three months. Over time, seven faith communities in Olympia and the adjoining cities of Tumwater and Lacey stepped forward to organize volunteers and host what became known as “Camp Quixote,” as it moved more than 20 times over seven years."

"Washington-based Community Frameworks served as the nonprofit affordable housing developer, helping Panza with a feasibility study and development plan, fundraising, design and construction, and property management. Financing for the $2.6 million development was provided by Washington State Housing Trust, HUD Community Development Block Grants from Washington State, the City of Olympia, Thurston County, and individual and private contributions including donated professional services.

"Like the original camp, Quixote Village is self-governed, with Panza serving as the legal landlord responsible for admitting and evicting residents. An executive committee convenes weekly resident council meetings to address community concerns and advise Panza on new applications. Each resident is expected to pay one third of his or her monthly income as rent, participate in regular council meetings, and share responsibilities for cleaning and maintaining common areas and a shared vegetable garden and berry patch."

Tortorello, Michael. "Small World, Big Idea." The New York Times, Feb. 19, 2014.

"The old Camp Quixote ceased to exist on Dec. 24, Mr. Johnson said. And it was high time for their homeless community to redefine itself. No one who lives in Quixote Village is homeless."

Community First! Village, Austin

Emerald Village, Eugene

Tiny Homes Detroit

Cass Community Social Services -

Veterans' Villages

Canada, Wisconsin

Sand Point Cottages, Seattle

A really important new permanent-housing village project in Seattle: Sand Point Cottage Community, from a major & long-time force in this movement, Low Income Housing Institute, on land leased from the city Office of Housing. Aiming to open in the Spring of this year, 22-25 studio and 1-bdrms, size around 384sf reported.

Like SquareOne Villages' Emerald Village, this is a crucial move where an organization that has done shelter/transitional housing, uses its learnings and extends to permanent housing.

A second dimension whereby this is a watershed event is that this village is using public land, long-term leased (for EV by comparison, SquareOne bought the land). This points to huge opportunities because cities, counties, & public bodies across the US have large amounts of vacant or underutilized land, and there is a broad movement to facilitate use of this for non-market housing that more people can afford.

When public bodies consider using public land for housing, including in Seattle, there is often pressure to give or sell the property to conventional affordable-housing developers. These typically create housing for households up to 60% of media family income (MFI), rarely for the poorest whom village projects tend to serve.

I have been for years advocating for long-term leasing rather than sale/conveyance of these pubilc lands, so they remain under better public control and could more feasibly evolve to different housing approaches. Also, advocating for public-land use for villages, which has current momentum e.g. in California for temporary/shelter forms, but not so much for permanent alternative housing which I think is the crucial need and opportunity.

This project is "22-25 studio and one-bedroom cottages of affordable workforce housing for families and individuals employed at low wages. The cottages will have living and sleeping areas, lofts, kitchens and bathrooms. The community will include a common building, community garden, outdoor recreation space and walking paths."

"The vacant property is owned by the city of Seattle at 6343 NE 65th Street. It is zoned Low-rise 3 and is within the residentially zoned portion of Magnuson Park. LIHI will master lease the land from the Seattle Office of Housing. The cottages will be built modularly off-site by students in pre-apprenticeship and vocational training programs, and assembled on-site by a general contractor."

Pu’uhonua, Oahu

Cottage Village, Cottage Grove

13.x common patterns/learnings: low-cost, community building; build for/with residents; can use public or available land. Rethinking cost structure, ownership, collectivity, amenity bundle / priorities of housing values.

Emerald Village, Eugene

Cottage Village, Cottage Grove


Kavick, Ray. "First week at Camp Quixote."  Works In Progress (Thurston County Rainbow Coalition), March 2007.

Tortorello, Michael. "Small World, Big Idea." The New York Times, Feb. 19, 2014.


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