Submitted by Kathy Mann, Board Member
As Sierra Roots is in the process of creating a community of small permanent homes for folks in our area who are experiencing not having a home, we having been exploring good examples of somewhat similar communities in other regions. On August 11, 2017, a group of Sierra Roots supporters – board members, volunteers and friends visited the Quinn Cottages. (https://www.mercyhousing.org/california/quinn-cottages)
Quinn Cottages is a small community of 60 permanent homes that have 350 square feet of living space each. The community is located in Sacramento, just on the edge of the downtown area. Project was built by Mercy Housing, a non-profit organization that builds affordable housing. Their website provides a good description of the Quinn Cottages community:
“Quinn Cottages, built in 1998, is a partnership of Mercy Housing and Cottage Housing. Quinn Cottages provides transitional housing for the homeless. The 2.65 acre site consists of 60 small cottage units (including six fully handicapped accessible units). The cottages are clustered in a series of small neighborhoods, each oriented around a shared common space. The perimeter is fenced, monitored with a security system and has controlled front gate access. A central community building houses a computer room, a library/small conference room, a multipurpose room and a community kitchen. Residents participate in a rigorous and comprehensive two-year program from which they graduate. Resident support services are provided by Cottage Housing, whose staff provides comprehensive social services through existing agencies and through services contracts that bring social services on board.
Our group of twenty or so were treated with a tour by a guide who was very knowledgeable about how Quinn Cottages was developed, its many programs offered to the residents of the community and their experience of moving from an early “clean and sober” entry policy to the Housing First model. That model has been used more recently with organizations that provide services and housing for people who have been drug and/or alcohol addictions and some also have physical and/or mental disabilities. Our tour guide spent a good deal of our time on site answering all of our questions and also talked about her own journey from a long time on the streets, getting treatment, living at Quinn Cottages and now working there. Very hopeful!
We also were granted permission of a resident – a single Mom with a teenager, to enter and see their home. That home has a nice separate bedroom, a kitchen, a wall mounted air conditioner, and a full bathroom. Of the 60 units, there are a mix of one, two and three bedrooms. Tenants pay 30% of their income for their homes. The homes are built semi-attached and are in a very pleasant meandering clustering layout. Property maintenance of the common green lawns and shade trees is provided by Mercy Housing staff. Also, there is a large community building for food services, trainings and meetings. An inspiring tour to say the least!
Submitted by Jim Carney, Board Member
Our visit to Quinn Cottages in Sacramento gave those of us from Sierra Roots a real boost to our desire to build just such a Village of small houses for our homeless people here in Nevada County. Quinn Cottages recently changed from being transitional housing for the homeless to becoming permanent housing, with supportive community services for the homeless people in line with the “Housing First” philosophy. We were impressed with the orderliness, the beauty and the friendliness of all residents and managers we met. The cottages are big enough for one resident or one with a child or a couple. Built to have running water, insulation and electricity, they have a kitchen, living area and a good sized bedroom. The micro houses we envision would not be as big, but the layout of the 60cottages on the 1 and ó acre compound with secure fencing and a locked gate were impressive and very well planned. Sierra Roots will learn from this organization, and bring their knowledge and expertise to our plans. We encourage anyone who is interested to visit this Cottage Village in Sacramento to see what can be done, and what is being done very successfully in northern California. We can use this example to bring a solution to our homeless situation right here in Nevada County. It's time to stop talking about it and get something like this done as quickly as we can.