Four Previously Homeless Families Are Now Housed in Tiny Backyard Cottages in Portland

As KOIN-TV first reported, the project to house families in backyard cottages has come to fruition. It took a year longer than expected and came in over budget.

Sunnyside neighborhood (Tony Webster)

The Multnomah County project to house four previously homeless families in tiny backyard cottages came to fruition.

But it's not clear if the project will be replicated for more families, as KOIN-TV first reported, as it took a year longer than expected and came in over budget.

"We're still determining the final cost analysis and lessons learned," Mary Li, Multnomah Idea Lab director, tells WW. "Thus it's too soon for policy makers and funders to be able to make any final decisions about scale at this point."

Originally, the county hoped to move families into homes by June 30 of last year, as WW reported in March 2017. They had accomplished that goal in late August, KOIN reported.

Related: Multnomah County Hopes to Build Granny Flats to House Hundreds of Homeless Families in Portland Backyards

The costs have also grown. Initially, the county hoped to build the tiny 200-square-foot cottages for $30,000. Then the estimate lept to $75,000 a cottage. In the end, two of the cottages, the ones constructed off site, were built for that sum; the other two cost $133,391 apiece.

The overall budget for the project grew from $350,000 to $550,000, according to the county's latest estimate.

The project notably saw an outpouring of interest from private citizens who were interested in lending a hand with the county's homeless crisis.

Related: Nearly 600 Households Have Already Inquired About Hosting a Homeless Family in Their Backyards

That interest remains, according to the county.

"Approximately 75% of the original 1,099 interested homeowners who signed up over one year ago, are still interested in possible future participation," according to the August fact sheet from the county.  "Enhabit [the nonprofit managing the project for the county] is considering alternative funding options to build the next five units."

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.