Portland shelter tackles housing crisis and climate change together

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — Homelessness and climate change are two of the biggest challenges facing Oregon today, and a Portland family village campus called Path Home is tackling both of them head-on. The facility is expanding its footprint to help even more of the city’s most vulnerable, while aiming to power that service through 100% renewable solar energy.

“When I showed up here, I said ‘Oh my gosh, this is the moonshot. This is what we’re going for,'” said Brandi Tuck, executive director of Path Home.

After seeing the property in 2017, she and her team raised three-million dollars to buy the patch of land, nearly an acre and a half, including an old church on Southeast 92nd Avenue in the Lents neighborhood.

“We really want to be a one-stop shop where families can get all the tools, resources, and relationships that they need to truly end homelessness for good,” Tuck said.

Path Home provides both emergency shelter and transitional housing. The campus is tailored to the needs of families with kids who have spent time on the streets, using trauma-informed design.

“Trauma-informed design and architecture is a specific kind of design that helps people heal from the crisis and trauma of homelessness,” Tuck explained.

Low-height room dividers give a sense of privacy, glass doors offer more peace of mind in knowing when someone is coming or going. Big windows, natural light and soft colors are all purposeful choices, meant to rewire the mind and heal trauma.

The site’s design has a second goal, Tuck said: Making the campus as energy efficient and as green as possible. Working with Elemental Energy, the village was able to secure nearly $100,000 in grants and rebates to install a 102-panel solar array atop the old church.

The highly visible array on the large west-facing roof is “really a great reminder for everyone,” said Zach Parrott, a solar developer with Elemental Energy. The array should offset about 70% of the energy usage at Path Home.

“The power being produced will go into the electric panel, will go out to any of the appliances or lights that’s being used right now, and then any excess will go back to the grid,” he said.

Path Home is still expanding, and when finished, the campus will have a brand new multi-story building with shelter, transitional housing, and at least two dozen units of permanent housing, with wrap around services to help keep clients in their homes for good.


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