August 2020: A nearly complete rendering, showing pods, pathways, landscaping and community space for the St. Johns Village. This view is looking southwest from the main entry gate at Richmond. (Courtesy of Convergence Architecture)

August 2020: A nearly complete rendering, showing pods, pathways, landscaping and community space for the St. Johns Village. This view is looking southwest from the main entry gate at Richmond. (Courtesy of Convergence Architecture)






People receiving city/county rent assistance to either end or prevent their homelessness on any given night in 2019


People receiving city/county rent assistance to either end or prevent their homelessness on any given night in 2015







What is the plan for a village-style alternative shelter in St. Johns? 

The City of Portland and Multnomah County’s Joint Office of Homeless Services is working with Do Good Multnomah, a shelter and housing services provider, to establish a transitional shelter village in St. Johns — with case management, electricity, plumbing, community space and a fully functioning kitchen — for 19 people.

Land for the site, at 8005 N. Richmond, is owned by St. Johns Christian Church. The Church is leasing its land to a nonprofit services provider, Do Good Multnomah, for the nonprofit-managed, services-focused transitional village.

Anyone participating in this program must abide by participation agreements and be actively engaged in housing searches. Do Good Multnomah expects sleeping pods will turn over throughout a given year as people move through the village and back into housing.

A local St. Johns firm, Convergence Architecture, has been helping with pro bono design work. Other project partners include local landscape architect Rachel Hill, local builder Mods Pdx and the Oregon Home Builders Association.

August 2020: Overhead view of the nearly finished design plan for the village, showing landscaping. (Courtesy of Convergence Architecture)

August 2020: Overhead view of the nearly finished design plan for the village, showing landscaping. (Courtesy of Convergence Architecture)

The St. Johns village would resemble the Joint Office-supported Kenton Women’s Village, which opened near homes and businesses in a new location in 2019 with bathrooms, a kitchen and designed pods. It also would resemble a village in Clackamas County managed by Do Good Multnomah.

The St. Johns village would have sleeping pods, plumbing, electricity, nonprofit support around housing outcomes, and security features.

What’s the timeline?

After months of pro bono design work, the project went out to bid for a general contractor in August 2020.

That means work to set up the village — site preparation and off-site construction of sleeping pods and common buildings — is expected to start as soon as late summer or early fall 2020.

The village is now tentatively set to open in late 2020.

Construction/installation and ongoing services and facilities, not including any services, labor or materials provided pro bono, will be funded through the Joint Office of Homeless Services. The Joint Office also funds those services at the Kenton Women’s Village. An updated cost estimate for the village is pending the bid process.

Who would stay at the village and for how long?

The village would serve couples and single adults 18 and older.

Pets would be allowed. Guests would be able to have a bed as long as they need, with the expectation that they are engaging with Do Good Multnomah and working toward permanent housing. We expect the village to accommodate 19 pods, with pods turning over throughout a given year as people move into housing.

Participants will stay at the site subject to participation agreements that set expectations for how they treat each other and how they conduct themselves in the surrounding area. Anyone unwilling or unable to abide by these agreements will not be able to stay at the site. Drinking alcohol and using illegal drugs will not be permitted at the village.

Inside the kitchen at Clackamas County’s veterans village.

Inside the kitchen at Clackamas County’s veterans village.

What screening process will be used for the village?

Sex offenders will be screened out by Do Good Multnomah through background checks. Those staying at the village will be entered into the city’s Homeless Management Information System, which collects client-level data on housing and shelter services.

Do Good Multnomah will work with neighbors and community partners around referrals that identify individuals who would be a good fit for the village. Specific agreements and rules will be captured in a village manual. Some additional details might also be determined through working with neighbors and stakeholders in a good neighbor agreement.

How can neighbors contribute to a successful village?

Village residents would be expected to contribute to their new neighborhood like any other new arrival might — including volunteering and hosting community events, co-gardening space and offering to work with volunteers.  Neighbors are already stepping up to help connect villagers to those opportunities.

Do Good Multnomah, which operates a men’s Veterans shelter in Northeast Portland, also has a track record of working with its neighbors, including a preschool that shared its previous shelter site. On Valentine’s Day, students at the school presented the Veterans with heart-shaped pizzas. Do Good also operates a village in Clackamas County that has strong ties with neighbors and businesses.

Here are some examples of how to work together:

Meet with supporters: A group of neighbors have come together as the  St. Johns Welcomes the Village Coalition (SJWV). They are gathering educational materials and are working on opportunities for engagement and volunteering to support the successful implementation of the village. Already, the group has had more than 300 neighbors who have signed  a letter of support and is continuing to grow. To learn more, check out and contact [email protected] for more information.

Attend regular meetings: Get to know each other through regular get-togethers, such as village meetings. This is a place to provide input and come up with joint project ideas.

One on one: Directly contact the village with questions or ideas.

Shared projects: Co-create fun, community-based joint projects with guests, neighbors and other nonprofits. Examples from other, similar projects include vegetable gardens, sharing a community space for meetings and celebrations, spaghetti dinners and helping to build new pods when that work is under way.

Neighborhood events: Invite village residents to neighborhood events – for example, Kenton Women’s Village created (and won a prize for) a float in the St. Johns Parade.

Tours: Villages frequently offer tours where you can learn more. Contact the village first to find out what times will work.

Neighborhood resources: Connect residents to resources in the neighborhood. Other neighborhoods have connected folks to jobs, free tickets at the local theater and more.

Volunteer: Invite residents to participate in volunteer projects around the neighborhood – people like to give back. Hazelnut Grove, for example, has regularly been volunteering at the Oregon Food Bank. Also, neighbors can often volunteer at the village. Volunteering could include contributing your professional expertise (such as nursing or construction assistance) or just helping out as needed (like gardening or hosting a potluck). You can ask the village, they may have a list of ideas or needs.

What would a village in St. Johns mean for people in need locally?

A village in St. Johns would create opportunities for folks in St. Johns to receive shelter and services while learning from the model of community support the Grove has built. Partnership with an established provider would also mean residents would receive transitional services to move forward to permanent housing.

Do Good Multnomah, besides operating a long-time Veterans shelter in Northeast Portland, has experience working with a village. It is working with Clackamas County to operate a village-style alternative shelter for Veterans. Do Good also has experience offering transition services, rapid rehousing assistance and developing permanent housing. 

You can learn more about Do Good Multnomah at

The closest site-design comparison is the Kenton Women’s Village, which you can learn more about at

How WILL Do Good Multnomah address safety concerns?

Like any good neighbor, and like any other social services provider, a village must be responsible for safe and effective property management that ensures safety for the guests of the village and the village’s neighbors

A few examples that build from our experience from other sanctioned villages, such as the Kenton Women’s Village, Dignity Village and Right 2 Dream Too:

●     The village will have a fence and gate, with people staffing the gate.

●     Do Good will maintain 24/7 phone number — and will facilitate meetings with neighbors as needed.

●     General assembly meetings will be open to the public.

●     Most importantly, the village will engage the surrounding neighbors in community activities. Meeting each other and knowing one another individually helps everyone feel comfortable, safe and a part of the neighborhood.

With respect to concerns about people with certain criminal histories receiving services at sites near residential communities, we should be clear: If an individual’s criminal history precludes them from being within a certain distance of a school, they wouldn’t be allowed to live at this shelter. Just as they wouldn’t be allowed to live in a nearby apartment, house or tent. Do Good Multnomah will also screen out sex offenders directly.

Parole and probation officers, as they do throughout our community, enforce supervision terms that set those boundaries. And they will arrest those who violate them, again, whether they live in homes of their own or are sleeping in unsanctioned campsites.

As we have in other neighborhoods, we are committed to ensuring that the program succeeds, for its residents but also for the community. And in the unlikely event that problems arise that cannot be timely addressed, we will revisit the operator, the program model, and even the continued use of the site for this kind of village community. 

Do Good Multnomah would also work to ensure there is no unsanctioned camping around the village location.


The St. Johns program will operate in similar fashion to the Kenton Women’s Village and Clackamas Veterans Village. That means a nonprofit provider, Do Good Multnomah, will not only manage the village but also will be required to provide services and connections to services, including housing navigation.

This information is current as of February 2020:

  • Since January 2019, when Kenton Women's Village moved to its larger, long-term location (20 pods, for 20 people at any one time), Catholic Charities of Oregon has helped 13 women move into permanent housing, and all of them have stayed in that housing.

    Two more women are expected to move into housing in the next few weeks.

  • In total, 36 participants have moved into housing since the program opened in mid-2017. All but one has been able to stay in that housing.

  • At the Clackamas Veterans Village, 20 participants have moved into housing in the past 16 months, Do Good Multnomah reports.

  • Do Good also has a housing navigator who's been making weekly visits to Hazelnut Grove. He's helped two people there move into housing. And others have moved with Do Good's assistance to other formal programs, including the Veterans Village.

How will a village fit within the services already offered by partners in A Home for Everyone, our community’s strategy for addressing homelessness?

After leading a dramatic expansion that doubled year-round shelter capacity in our community, partners in A Home for Everyone, including the City of Portland and Multnomah County, are now working to transform those temporary, emergency spaces into enduring, purpose-designed shelter opportunities that serve our ultimate goal of helping neighbors keep or return to housing.

Although this kind of alternative shelter will be set up on open space, with common areas and movable pods, expectations are no different than for any other traditional shelter.

All shelter facilities, no matter the provider or type, must ensure safe and supportive environments for their guests and help them transition to permanent housing. They also must be good neighbors to those nearby.

Alternative shelter provides a sense of community, and it’s another option for people who do not want, or struggle to succeed in, facility-based shelter and don’t have access to permanent housing options. It also empowers participants by giving them a voice in how their sites are governed, and allows participants to engage with community members.

It’s not meant as a replacement for programs like rent assistance, housing case management or facility-based shelter, all of which successfully help thousands of neighbors in our community every year.

Why not other models like hotels or larger shelters?

Our shelter system depends on a range of interventions and models, and a village model of providing shelter is just one way we have worked to expand our offerings to provide more services tailored for more people.

Out of more than 1,400 publicly funded beds — double the number just four years ago — most are in traditional structures that offer beds to as many as 120 people at a time. We have worked to remake our system overall so it works better, moving as many shelters as possible to 24-hour operations with services (housing placement, clinics, etc.) offered on site.

Shelters now offer beds for couples, so partners no longer have to split up to find a safe place to sleep. Pets are welcome, and people can store belongings. Beds also are offered by reservation, and are held for someone as long as they need it while seeking housing — meaning no more nightly queuing at the shelters the Joint Office oversees.

People on the streets, seeking better options for themselves, have been among the most passionate champions of villages and have long organized to add them to the system. While many people still prefer traditional shelter, villages provide another way to bring services to people who might struggle in those settings and who might find empowerment and success in the community-building that a village can offer.

What is Hazelnut Grove?

Hazelnut Grove is a village-style alternative shelter community that’s been operating on city-owned land in the Overlook neighborhood — but without infrastructure like water, sewer and electricity, or a service provider partner — since 2015.

It currently serves single adults and people in couples. Hazelnut Grove has a board of advisers, including neighbors and community members who live outside the Grove. It is governed through general assembly meetings; those meetings are open to neighbors to attend.

Residents at Hazelnut Grove have been involved in community work in the Overlook neighborhood, including serving on the Overlook Neighborhood Association’s board. Hazelnut Grove also has built enduring and supportive relationships with nearby neighbors in Overlook that would continue even after a move. Members also volunteer in the neighborhood and for the Oregon Food Bank.

Hazelnut Grove’s current site operates with donations, with some facilities and logistical support — such as trash pickup — provided by the City of Portland. Like the city’s three other alternative shelters, Hazelnut Grove’s current site is on city land. But it has been operating without partnership from a service provider and formal city approval. 

The St. Johns village is a new, structured program that may include some members of Hazelnut Grove. Grove members would be able to leave their site and come to this new program only if they agreed to participate in services provided by Do Good Multnomah.

An alternative shelter is not a camp or a campsite. It is simply a shelter that is not facility-based, i.e. not in a single building. Alternative shelters, structured as pod villages, have sleeping pods where guests stay. They share communal buildings that house shared services and amenities such as cooking and meeting spaces, social services office and storage.

WHAT ABOUT CONCERNS OVER RV or spillover camping?

No one will be able to walk up to the village and receive services or a sleeping pod. This program is reservation-based, like our other publicly funded shelters. Our other shelters, including the Kenton Women’s Village, have not served as magnets for camping.

Do Good Multnomah will work to ensure there is no unsanctioned camping around the village location.

Generally, neighbors can call the One Point of Contact system operated by the City of Portland to report high-impact campsites.

If someone’s feeling unsafe or there’s a criminal issue, they can call 911 or the Portland Police Bureau’s emergency line, 503-823-3333.

For further information:

Please reach out to Andy Goebel, director of emergency management at Do Good Multnomah, at [email protected].