Village Buildings

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Village Buildings: West Coast housing from the bottom up.  

A book and web project in progress, initially developed as a proposal to the Meyer Memorial Trust's spring 2019 Advocacy grant funding.  Alternate titles: Revillaging the World.
by Tim McCormick and the Village Collaborative project of SquareOne Villages, Oregon. Last update: 30 January, 2020. 

This page is book draft / outline, linking to individual sections which as they develop are being spun out into independent articles. 


(1) Introduction / background

There are lots of related situations from over the years in Portland and around the country (and world), and many different perspectives taken on them. 

For example, PSU School of Architecture has particularly looked at 'village' efforts as a type of alternative, temporary shelter, and opportunity for public-interest professional and pedagogical design to engage usefully.  For Mark Lakeman and Communitecture - Architecture, Planning, Design, villages are an avenue for rediscovering/reinventing a way of living that is fundamentally more connected, community-oriented, and ecological than our prevailing system.

For Andrew Heben of SquareOne Villages, villages are a spectrum of ways to fulfill dwelling needs in an effective, self-determined, and comparatively low-cost way, from refugee to transitional villages to permanent small-home cooperative villages. 

For critics such as Berkeley's Chris Herring, or Barbara Poppe former head of U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, or Sara Rankin of Seattle University, these are mostly substandard false solutions whereby neoliberal urban regimes sequester unwanted bodies, and accept the dehumanization and exclusion of them from mainstream society. 

Me, I am striving to relate and examine these various dwelling situations and perspectives, put it in a larger framework of understanding, and work out key patterns.  In order to:

  1. be practically helpful and inspiring to the 1500+ people on The Village Collaborative group who are interested in or already working on village projects;  and
  2. distill, from this, helpful analyses of some fundamental and widely applicable housing questions, such as how/why we distinguish between 'permanent' and 'temporary' or movable dwelling; and how/why housing is so often used to express and maintain inequality. And how we might achieve housing for all.


Prefatory quote ideas

Colin Ward on J.F.C. Turner - a philosopher of housing
J.F.C. Turner 
Teddy Cruz quotes from 2012 OPB interview. 
William Morris
Jack Tafari 
John Brinckerhoff Jackson

"Housing in the twentieth century has been one continuing emergency." 
- Charles Abrams, "The Future of Housing." 1946. 

"Oregon is emerging as a testing ground for a new approach to solving the nationwide shortage of affordable housing." 
- The Wall Street Journal, October 2019. [Parker 2019]. 

"In the broadest sense, the goal of urban planning is to facilitate communication." 
     - Carl Abbott, PhD, Professor & Chair, College of Planning & Public Health, Portland State University. (ca 2004). Used as prefatory quote in 2004 "Dignity Village Proposal, 2004-" by Dignity Village Council and City Repair Project. 

 "I want a left that can operate on all scales."
     - Daniel Immerwarh, author of Thinking Small: The United States and the Lure of Community Development (2015).

"Distrust all claims for 'one true way.'"
    Unix "Rule of Diversity", in e.g. E.S. Raymond, The Art of Unix Programming, 2003. 

"Liminality (from the Latin word for threshold) is a term..for a variety of states of passage, through which designated members of a given culture travel at specified times...Because they occupy no fixed status in the liminal state, they are considered ambiguous beings--even dangerous--and their presence is subject to ritual regulation. Special precautions are taken to separate them from ordinary social life...[Liminal states] share a suspension of the commonplace; intermingling with unfamiliar others in strange settings; and a heightened sense of uncertainty, of things being unfinished and in process.  Although liminal passages are usually undertaken in well-mapped territory from which the voyager is expected to return, occasionally the process stalls....We will argue that what unites the phenomena gathered up in the term homelessness is liminality (resolved or stalled) and abeyance gone awry." 
   - Kim Hopper & Jim Baumohl. "Redefining the Cursed Word: A Historical Interpretation of American Homelessness." in [Baumohl 1996]. 

"this retrofit the monoculture and mono-use parcels of many of these older neighborhoods could be the DNA to in fact rethink land use and ultimately housing models....The future of the city at this moment of crisis depends less on buildings, and more on the reconfiguration of social and economic relations. I think there is a huge potential that Outside In, the agencies that are so progressive, in cities equally progressive as Portland, can begin to lead the way in reimagining what we mean by housing." 
 - Teddy Cruz, 2012 Visiting Professor at PSU CPID, on OPB Think Out Loud [Blanchard 2012].

"We all live in a state of ambitious poverty." ("Hic vivimus ambitiosa paupertate omnes").
   -Juvenal‬, Satires

"Pray to God, but row towards shore." 
     - Russian proverb.

"What the poor need is not charity but capital, not caseworkers but co-workers. And what the rich need is a wise, honorable way of divesting themselves from their overabundance."
   - Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity, in 1968 letter to Koinonia Farm community, proposing HfH. [quoted in Stevens & Swisher, Community Self-Help Housing Manual, published by Habitat for Humanity in 1982].

"Let us capture a piece of fallow ground if necessary and hold it for ourselves... for doesn't the Bible say that the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof?" 
 - Jack Tafari, "We Need a Tent City." Street Roots, Oct 2000.

"Very soon now we shall pitch the tents of Joshua on various sites around the city. We are blessed here in Oregon with ample public land and so there is space if not a place for us to go. We must build that place for ourselves. Know that the kernel of the future lies buried in the present. It is important for the future how we set up and govern our camps now." 
 -- Jack Tafari. "The Future." Street Roots, Dec 2000.


Foreword / Preface ideas

Andrew Heben
Mark Lakeman
Sergio Palleroni

Project goals 

Provide a successor to Tent City Urbanism (2014)

Examine recent developments such as POD Initiative, permanent villages

help to document & disseminate, as permanently and impactfully as possible, the work of housing innovators such as:

Build historical, global, and critical perspectives

  • developing economies - "self build" tradition, "housing as a verb" (J.F.C. Turner), cycle of applying back to more-developed countries.
  • Intermediate technologies / Appropriate technologies - E.F. Schumacher
  • Community Development [Housing] - CDCs CDHO - tradition since 1960s, pedagogical & social-cognitive (Ruskin, etc!) perspectives. 
  • critiques of self-build and community development.  
  • surveying and responding to common objections / counterarguments. (anti-pattern language).
  • broad taxonomy of housing-affordability approaches. (see Appendix).

Suggest future paths - cluster housing, network villages, eco/resilient villages


Expanded project: help build knowledge/organizing network between allied organizations

e.g. with Village Collaborative, Village Coalition (Portland), LIHI (Seattle). 

Book as network: see also: "From Monograph to Multigraph: the Distributed Book" [McCormick 2013]. 

See also Ward Cunningham's work on Federated Wiki, use on A Pattern Language for Growing Regions (Mehaffy et al).  

Network participants: 

  • Village Collaborative
  • Tiny House networks, advocates -- American Tiny House Association, Tinyhouseblog (Alexis & __), etc. 
  • Center for Public Interest Design
  • Meyer Trust
  • A Pattern Language for Growing Regions
  • Wikipedia
  • Spatial Agency 
  • etc
  • see UK-based "Designing Buildings Wiki" as a model for an open knowledge-sharing network, also built on MediaWiki platform as is HousingWiki. 




(2) Backgrounds & strands: Oregon planning, self-build/eco housing, etc 


Self-build & eco-housing

Harris, Richard (1999). "Slipping through the Cracks: The Origins of Aided Self-help Housing, 1918-53." Housing Studies, Vol. 14, No. 3, 281-309, 1999.

developing economies - "self build" tradition, "housing as a verb" (J.F.C. Turner), cycle of applying back to more-developed countries.

Ward, P., and G. C. Macoloo (1992). "Articulation theory and self-help housing practice in the 1990s." Urban Studies 16 (1): 60-80.
"Explores the proposition that many aspects of self-help housing practices are being undermined by the penetration of capital accumulation processes at the urban periphery of Third World cities. Specifically, the authors investigate the ways in which different modes of housing production may be articulated - economically, politically and ideologically. Drawing upon evidence in two principal locations (Mexico and Kenya), they analyse the methods and costs of land acquisition by low-income groups, and the production and consumption of building materials for self-help construction. The authors conclude by identifying ways to restore a dialogue between those academics interested primarily in critical theory and housing production, and those researchers and practitioners who are more concerned with policy formulation and implementation."



Walter Segal - Segal Self-Build Housing System - Lewisham, London. 

Emergency housing - "Earthquake Cottages" 

The San Francisco 1906 earthquake response is considered a turning point in natural-disaster response, for multiple reasons. It was arguably better organized and better documented than any previous major natural disaster, and employed a remarkable, successful program of temporary camps equipped first with tents and then quickly with wooden small homes designed to be movable and offered on rent-to-own terms to occupants. 


Squatting, direct action, land struggles


Dignity Village as direct action & land occupation. 

Quixote Village - early days, 2007- as occupation in downtown Olympia, Washington. 

Lents Womens Village - precursor to Kenton Womens Village - direct action leads to new village. 

Corr, Anders. No Trespassing!: Squatting, Rent Strikes, and Land Struggles Worldwide.1999.

Vasudevan, Alex. (2017). The Autonomous City: A History of Urban Squatting. 2017.



'Village' concept in urban studies

Gans, Herbert. The Urban Villagers. 

Taylor. "The Village in the City" 


Portland Downtown Plan

See article:  Portland Downtown Plan

Portland City Planning Commission (1972). "Planning Guidelines - Portland Downtown Plan." 

"The [Citizens Advisory] committee has learned that traditionally a complex set of factors, including transportation, circulation, zoning, and taxation, have determined land use when logically these factors ought to support prior land use decisions. The Downtown Plan is an opportunity for the citizens of Portland to say: Let's first decide how we want to use our Downtown and then determine what tools are necessary to achieve our land use decisions. For example, our goals call for increasing the number of low-income and middle-income housing units Downtown. The traditional land use determinants would probably bar implementation of this goal. Thus, if the citizens of Portland approve this goal, then alternative implementing methods need to be developed." (p.2)

"[Section:] Housing & Downtown Neighborhoods. 
General Goal: to give high priority to increasing the number of residential accommodations in the Downtown area for a mix of age and income groups.."
   "Encourage the fullest use of public and private programs to ensure that future Downtown housing accommodates a mix of low, moderate, and high-income people."
   "Recognize the differing needs and problems of the various groups who will be housed, including those groups who naturally gravitate to the city core. Provide housing and services commensurate with their physical and social needs. These groups include the single retired, the elderly, itinerant workers, 'down outers,' students, the handicapped, as well as middle and upper income groups." (p.3). 


Oregon land use reform

See article Oregon land use reform

Andersen, Michael. [2019] "Re-legalizing Fourplexes is the Unfinished Business of Tom McCall"  ["For decades, Oregon has used state law to battle economic segregation. Fair-housing experts say HB 2001 is the next step"]., January 23, 2019. 

Abbott, Carl (1994). "Metropolitan Portland: Reputation and Reality." Built Environment, Vol. 20, No. 1, (1994), pp. 52-64 PDF: 

Abbott, Carl and Deborah Howe. "The Politics of Land-Use Law in Oregon: Senate Bill 100, Twenty Years After." Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 94, No. 1 (Spring, 1993), pp. 4-35. PDF: 

Gifford, Laura Jane. "Planning for a Productive Paradise: Tom McCall and the Conservationist Tale of Oregon Land-Use Policy." Oregon Historical Quarterly , Vol. 115, No. 4 (Winter 2014), pp. 470-501. Stable URL: PDF:


"Non-Plan" tradition



Community Development Housing 

CDCs CDHO - tradition since 1960s, pedagogical & social-cognitive (Ruskin, etc!) perspectives. 


Wates, Nick, and Charles Knevitt (1987). Community Architecture: How People Are Creating Their Own Environment. Penguin UK, 1987. 
(Excerpts: [1]).


Intermediate & appropriate technologies - E.F. Schumacher

work of Ernst Friedrich Schumacher, whose theoretical framework of “intermediate technologies,” now known as “appropriate technologies,” gives the most concise and explicit approach to this type of project (Schumacher 1973).

Ernst Friedrich Schumacher advocates for developing a design with low capital costs, which uses local or found materials, keeping with grassroots decision making, working collectively, rather than relying upon individual eff orts, the allowance for user control, supporting community empowerment and economic self-suffi ciency (Schumacher 1973, 167-168).



Grant, Elizabeth, and Kelly Greenop, Albert L. Refiti, Daniel J. Glenn, eds (2018). The Handbook of Contemporary Indigenous Architecture. Springer, 2018. E-ISBN.

Lewis, David G. (2016). "Houses of the Oregon Tribes." NDNHistory Research, December 31 2016. 


Liminal space / "Terrain vague"

"The concept of terrain vague was first theorized by Ignasi de Sola-Morales in the mid 1990s as a contemporary space of project and design that includes the marginal wastelands and vacant lots that are located outside the city’s productive spaces – which Morales describes as oversights in the landscape that are mentally exterior in the physical interior of the city. Around the same time, the artist and architect collective Stalker defined Terrains Vagues in the plural as spaces of confrontation and contamination between the organic and the inorganic, between nature and artifice that constitute the built city’s negative, the interstitial and the marginal, spaces abandoned by economic forces, or in the process of transformation.

"This book Terrain Vague: Interstices at the Edge of the Pale – edited by the architect Manuela Mariani and the professor of English Patrick Barron - seeks to expand on Sola-Morales ideas and to present the terrain vague through a taxonomy of urban empty spaces presented by the authors in the introduction – derelict lands, brownfields, voids, loose spaces, heterotopias, dead zones, urban wilds, counter-sites. The book aims to collectively refine this notion as a central concept of urban planning and design, architecture, landscape architecture, film studies, cultural geography, literature, photography, and cultural studies, looking at possible positive alternatives to the negative images projected into them."

Barron, Patrick, and Manuela Mariani, eds (2014). Terrain Vague: Interstices at the Edge of the Pale. New York: Routledge, 2014. 

Brighenti, Andrea Mubi, ed. (2013). Urban Interstices: The Aesthetics and the Politics of the In-between. Ashgate Publishing, 2013. ISBN [[[[2]]]].


(3) Homeless Encampments

see main article: Homeless encampments


(4) Early villages for the homeless

Dome Village, Los Angeles


Hayes, Ted. "History of JHUSA" [Justiceville/Homeless, USA - i.e. Dome City, Los Angeles].

Justiceville/Homeless, USA (2001). "A Look at Dome Village." Dome Village Booklet Publication, Issue 3, July 2001.

Dome Village (Justiceville II), downtown Los Angeles,1993-2006 

Founder and housing activist Ted Hayes was friends with Craig Chamberlain, architect and student/friend of Buckminster Fuller, who proposed creating dome dwellings on the site. Chamberlain also apparently had experience with fabricating fiberglass surfboards, and this informed his design of the Omni-Sphere dwellings at Dome Village, made of polyester fiberglass panels bolted together.  

Mr. Lod Cook, the then President and Chairperson of the Board of the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) which contributed $250,000 to initiate the Dome Village said of it at the opening ceremony on November 3, 1993, “The most innovative concept addressing homelessness in at least the last 50 years.”

The 20 20’+12’ apex omni-sphere domes of that made up the village on 11/4 aces lot in downtown, Los Angeles, was invented by Craig Chamberlain, a US Military, Vietnam combat  Veteran and ardent disciple-student, as well as personal friend of the late, R. Buckminister Fuller.

A wealthy property owner, Mr. David Adams, met with Ted, and so understood the immediate and long term resolution to chronic, sidewalk, encampment homelessness, became his business credibility partner; along with LA Mayor Richard Riordan who led the cities Planning Department, to permit the omni-spheres as legal, temporary, transitional structures for so said purposes.


Seattle - Low-Income Housing Institute



Dignity Village

interview/features: Ibrahim Mubarek, Mark Lakeman

uniqueness: perhaps first US permanent city-sanctioned, resident-established village

Dignity Village's [web] site:

See article: Dignity Village

Gragg, Randy. "Guerrilla City." Architecture, May 2002.
    “In its ‘permasite’ configuration, Dignity Village could potentially be a working model for a new type of truly sustainable, high density and mixed use, organically developing urban village model. If developed according to Dignity Villages wishes, the village would enhance Portland’s reputation as being the most green city in America. ... Dignity Village hopes to become a demonstration site for solar and wind power, permaculture, environmental restoration, stormwater and greywater reuse and innovative use of recycled materials and alternative building techniques for construction.”





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."



Opportunity Village, Eugene

See main article Opportunity Village

Right 2 Dream Too

See main article Right 2 Dream Too

Right 2 Survive organization - Ibraham Mubarak. 


Parr, Evanie and Rankin, Sara (2018). "It Takes a Village: Practical Guide for Authorized Encampments." Seattle University Homeless Rights Advocacy Project, May 3, 2018. Available at SSRN:



Village of Hope, Portland

Schmid,  Thacher. "A New Self-Managed Homeless Village Just Sprang Up in Northeast Portland." ["The 'Village of Hope' Sits on City-Owned Land, and Is the First Such Community to Emerge Under Mayor Ted Wheeler"].
Portland Mercury, Jan 28, 2018.

Harbarger, Molly. "Police sweep new homeless camp, Village of Hope." The Oregonian. Feb 02, 2018

Elia, Cory. "Keeping hope alive: seeking answers for the future." PSU Vanguard, March 16, 2018.

Elia, Cory.  "City of Portland threatens houseless advocates with fines." PSU Vanguard, April 13, 2018.



(5) Rediscovering informal, interim, tactical urbanism, & direct action

Food cart culture

Tactical urbanism - City Repair Project

City Repair Project (2006). The City Repair Project’s Placemaking Guidebook. ["Collectively authored and edited"]. 1st edition, 2003; 2nd edition, 2006
License:  Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5.

"When they approached the Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT) about the project, PDOT rejected the idea, ironically telling some of the neighbors, “That’s public space—
you can’t use it!”
"Later, some individuals from within PDOT approached the residents and told them that the only way to get the City to even consider such an untried idea was to force their hand. The neighbors refined the design and decided to create the “Intersection Repair” without City approval. In September 1996, they arranged for a legal block party street closure on all four radiating streets of the intersection of SE 9th and Sherrett, and they installed the first phase of “Share-It Square.” "Share-It Square began as a colorful painted circle, connecting the four corners of the intersection. The intention was to mark the crossroads as shared space. With an eye towards the intersection becoming a permanent public square in the future, they included prototypes of such things as an information kiosk and community watering hole (tea serving station) to represent characteristics of traditional public squares.  "Immediately, PDOT sent notification to remove the installation, and threatened to fine the folks involved. The neighborhood group then engaged PDOT and City Council members in dialogue about the project, and set out to prove its value by surveying the neighborhood and observing behavior at the intersection. The resulting survey showed that the vast majority of respondents perceived increases in neighborhood communication and safety and decreases in crime, both important benchmarks for the City of Portland." "The neighbors made a presentation to City Council, presenting their survey findings as well as a plan for the management and development of Share-It Square. It wasn’t until City officials realized that the project was meeting a host of City livability goals without spending any tax dollars that the project fi nally won City backing. The Council began issuing a series of City ordinances that granted permits to the project, and set out guidelines for similar undertakings to be installed throughout Portland."


From: Burman (2017), "Liminal Dwelling: Support for Street Residents, a Place of Re-integration and Transition." MArch thesis, Dalhousie University:

"The In-Between. 
Every city has spaces that can be considered “terrain vague”, which may be defi ned as derelict areas, wastelands or transgressive zones, that are neither slums nor open spaces but instead, are spaces that look empty and appear to have no current use. They may have once been spaces used for industry that are no longer supported by the post-industrial city. They are outside of the city’s formal circuits and structures, and need to fi nd a new use, but in the meantime, sit vacant, waiting for a new use to emerge (Doron 2010, 247). Instead of being viewed as blocked, inactive thresholds, these spaces should be seen as spaces in which to experiment, that is, spaces that may create opportunity for new forms of social interaction and relationships (Mariani and Barron 2014, 57).
    "Space is not a container to be filled with, or to be emptied of, a specific content, space is rather a network of relations activated, rearranged, and made meaningful by human actions (Mariani and Barron 2014, 49)."


Hailey, Charlie (2003). "Camp(site): architectures of duration and place." Ph.D dissertation, University of Florida, 2003.

Food-cart culture and form 

Food-carts as key paradigm-changer and new unit of urban form, discussed by Palleroni & Cruz on OPB Think Out Loud [Blanchard 2012]). 

Blanchard, Dave. [2012]. "Designing for Homelessness." [interview with Linly Bynam, Teddy Cruz, & Sergio Palleroni]. OPB Think Out Loud, October 3rd 2012.


Oakland: direct action meets city co-option, opposition, or embrace

Oakland village initatives 

see main article: Oakland village initiatives





Moms4 Housing protest, Magnolia St, Oakland; photo by Molly Solomon

Hagerty, Colleen.  "These moms were homeless. Now they are starting a housing revolution." The Lily (Washington Post), 6 February 2020.

"Moms 4 Housing is tight-lipped about its early days of organizing before the occupation and the specifics that led the group to occupy that particular house at that particular time. It has also, pointedly, avoided laying out who, exactly, makes up its ranks. Throughout their time occupying the house at Magnolia Street, news outlets would report that different women were or were not living there. A volunteer working with the women says this was by design, as some involved were concerned about retaliation at work. The Moms 4 Housing website does not name its founders, despite including photos of some of the women with their children."

"It’s a process that Cross, an Oakland resident for nearly four decades, has been dealing with over the past six years, while juggling multiple jobs and raising two daughters. For help, she ended up turning to the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action. That’s where she met the other women in the same situation, including Walker, an ACCE Action employee.

“They've all reached out to me at different times last year, like, ‘Carol, I need your help,’ in ways that moved my heart being that I don't have any resources to give,” explained Carroll Fife, the director of Oakland ACCE Action. “All I had is my ability to organize. So I said, ‘I don't have anything to give you, but I can organize. So let's figure out what we're going to do.’”"


Moms 4 Housing site About page

[from 20 Jan 2020 comment on Vahid Brown Facebook post]: 

"The current agreement is for Wedgewood to give on this & its other 20 Oakland properties, right of 1st refusal for city/non-profits to buy at fair market value. But, they already had that ability, more or less. The problem is that in a market like Oakland's, this is an extremely costly way to get housing - the Magnolia St. property might be over $1M. Also, it 1-for-1 removes housing from market -- so we have to consider, the people that would have rented or bought the house, what will they do now, leave the area? No, most likely rent or buy other property(ies) in Oakland and displace others.

Meanwhile, within 2 blocks of there, I know from living a block away, there are many dozens of people living informally/precariously in non-residential buildings, being steadily evicted or at high risk of sudden eviction, which City of Oakland could readily address by working out a reasonable amnesty and safety inspection and live-work ordinance extension, as groups like Oakland Warehouse Coalition have been assiduously working for years to get them to do, with the help of probably the county's leading live-work law and architecture expert, Thomas Dolan, who lives in Oakland.

Also, within a block from Moms4Housing's house are at least two long-vacant lots where people I knew worked long and hard, with temporary success, to create many units of very low-cost housing for themselves, friends, and locals, using self-build and container housing and various angles of campground, interim-use, shelter, vehicle dwelling etc. (those were Containertopia, and Sunrise Village, the former who bought the lot in question, the latter who leased it from private owner. See: ""Thinking Outside the Box by Moving Into One." The New York Times, Oct. 13, 2015. 

Those low-cost community housing projects, entirely self-funded, were generally fought every step of the way by City of Oakland, apart from some periods when the city just dropped the ball and went inactive on it. Oakland could have had several thriving sites right there of community-built housing, led by really motivated and ingenious local residents, if the city had done little more than just stayed out of the way.

So ironically, to me, this huge media focus on Moms4Housing feels like it's mostly dispossessing the locals, from a richer, longer-running, and rather more complicated local situation. While it is by almost all accounts represented as a kind of spontaneous, local-community uprising, I think the media is being a bit credulous or willfully disregarding the point that one of the moms is an employee of major state-wide advocacy group ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment) that is highly involved in battles like that against #SB50 statewide upzoning legislation. ACCE is clearly very involved in coordinating this action, demonstrations, and media, and in my opinion it's quite possible they originated the entire project, including picking an unsympathetic owner whose property to occupy. Which is, in my opinion, all power to them, great organizing! But a more complex story than what's being told, and a missed opportunity for people to really consider what "community development" or community-controlled housing could be in Oakland.

City-brokered sale to a community land trust seems to me a rather costly, institutionalized response that is not likely to address very much of the local need, and stands in sharp contrast to multiple more scalable, cost-efficient, truly community-driven efforts nearby that would have actually added quite a lot more housing, and been better models for change elsewhere.

(6) Community, public-interest design: the POD Initiative, etc. 

Hazelnut Grove

Village Coalition 

interview/feature: Vahid Brown, Village Coalition, Hazelnut Grove

See main article Hazelnut Grove

others in OR & elsewhere

See main article Village model 


Portland State University, Center for Public Interest Design

See article: Center for Public Interest Design.

Connecting global practices of informal, community-based, participatory development


Rethinking Shelter project/exhibit, 2012

Teddy Cruz interview

 from interview with Teddy Cruz, 2012 Visiting Professor at CPID, on OPB Think Out Loud [Blanchard 2012]:

"I've been interested in documenting many of the, what I call stealth activities that happen in many neighborhoods of immigrants who come and maybe plug an economy into a garage, or maybe build a granny flat that is illegal, just to support an extended family... much of this incredible social and economic entrepreneurship sometimes is not really included in the zoning regulation, and in a sense I've been trying to amplify how this activity in the hands of immigrants comes to retrofit the monoculture and mono-use parcels of many of these older neighborhoods could be the DNA to in fact rethink land use and ultimately housing models.

"So I think that what we are talking about maybe in Portland in the context of these projects and these initiatives is pretty much the same. It may not be immigrants per se, but it's really about the entrepreneurship also of youth, and how their activity can begin to inspire the reorganization of housing models, and here is then when architects come in, maybe not as designers of buildings only, but maybe as designers of interface systems that can begin to enable to very different idea of housing altogather. By that I mean whether it is governance or development or academia, we tend to think of housing only as units of housing, instead of maybe imagining housing as an incubator of economy, or maybe as a catalyst for a kind of cultural and social relations. 

"In a sense I've been in trouble with my own field of architecture, because I've been critical of architects who only focus on buildings, Instead I think we really need to begin to understand the broader set of relations. In other words, the future of the city at this moment of crisis depends less on buildings, and more on the reconfiguration of social and economic relations. I think there is a huge potential that Outside In, the agencies that are so progressive, in cities equally progressive as Portland, can begin to lead the way in reimagining what we mean by housing." 


Blanchard, Dave. [2012]. "Designing for Homelessness." [interview with Linly Bynam, Teddy Cruz, & Sergio Palleroni]. OPB Think Out Loud, October 3rd 2012.

Turner, Jody (2013). "Collaborative Design Tackles Homelessness" ["A group designing innovative support systems in Portland, Ore., is identifying better ways of living for the homeless and for communities at large]. Stanford Social Innovation Review, Jan. 15, 2013. [on Rethinking Shelter project]. 

Feldman, Roberta M, and Sergio Palleroni, David Perkes, Bryan Bell. "Wisdom From the Field: Public Interest Architecture in Practice." 2013.

Ferry, Todd, and Sergio Palleroni. "Research + action: the first two years of the Center for Public Interest Design." in Wortham-Galvin, B.D., editor, Sustainable Solutions: Let Knowledge Serve the City, 2016.


Village Coalition & POD Initiative

Cross-sector coalition and design, to convene deep community response

See article: Village Coalition

POD Initative

  • description.
  • see main article POD Initiative
  • Tim's photo album on POD Initiative: [1]. 
  • Interview/feature: Sergio Palleroni
  • interview/feature: Todd Ferry
  • Project descriptions

Plywood POD Initiative

MADWORKSHOP Homeless Studio, LA

This project closely coincided with POD Initiative and was quite similar in many ways. Comparisons may be instructive, for example how MADWORKSHOP unlike POD Initiative did not explicitly have a pre-specified building code they were building to, or site either actual or hypothetical for program. While POD Initiative did not actually (at least yet) build site or structures for the contemplated users/program (Hazelnut Grove village), the built structures did get used at other sites - Kenton Women's Village, Clackamas County Veteran's Village, and possible others to come. Some already built or to-be-built POD units may be used at the new site in St Johns area to which Hazelnut Grove village plans to relocate -- name to be decided as of late Nov 2019. 

Borges, Sofia, and R. Scott Mitchell (2018). Give Me Shelter: Architecture Takes on the Homeless Crisis. ORO Editions, February 1, 2018)
"Give Me Shelter documents the work of the MADWORKSHOP Homeless Studio at the USC School of Architecture and their solutions for tackling the Los Angeles homeless crisis through design, compassion, and humanity. The book features exclusive content from leaders in the field including Michael Maltzan, Ted Hayes, Betty Chinn, Gregory Kloehn, Skid Row Housing Trust, and many more. Paired with a forward by Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, Give Me Shelter provides an in-depth look at how design can bridge the gap in services to get people off the streets and into housing sooner."


Kenton Women's and later villages

interview/feature: Sarah Iannarone, members of Lents occupation

See main article: Kenton Women's Village

Communitecture page on Kenton Women's Village


Clackamas County Veteran's Village

See main article: Clackamas County Veteran's Village

Agape Village

See main article: Agape Village

Tim's photo album on Agape Village: [1].

Shelter designs after the POD Iniative:  how users, villages, and builders have modified or chosen/developed different designs, and why. 

Hazelnut Grove 2.0

(7) Permanent villages & housing

Community First! Village, Austin

Emerald Village, Eugene

See main article: Emerald Village

house plans

Cottage Village, Cottage Grove

See main article: Cottage Village

house plans

See also:  Quixote Village, in Olympia, Washington. 


Cass Community Social Services - Tiny Homes Detroit

Cass Community Social Services. "Tiny Homes Detroit."  Accessed 19 November 2019. 


Veterans' Villages - Canada, Wisconsin


Sand Point Cottage Community - LIHI, 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 Village's 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."


Backyard cottages for low-income & homeless

Block Project, Seattle

LISAH - Low Income Single Adult Housing - from Transition Projects and Meyer Trust in Portland. 

Multnomah County pilot.

Los Angeles pilot. 

Dinh, Tran and Brewster, David and Fullerton, Anna and Huckaby, Greg and Parks, Mamie and Rankin, Sara and Ruan, Nantiya and Zwiebel, Elie (2018). "Yes, In My Backyard: Building ADUs to Address Homelessness. University of Denver Sturm College of Law Homeless Advocacy Policy Project, May 3, 2018. or 


(8) Portland grant- and developer-funded housing experiments

Meyer Trust - Cost Efficiencies program.

New congregate housing

LISAH - Low Income Single Adult Housing - Transition Projects, Inc

See article:  LISAH

Harbarger, Molly, and Elliot Njus (2019). "Portland banking on low-rent SRO hotels to ease housing problems." The Oregonian, April 27, 2019.

LISAH - Low-Income Single Adult Housing - Transition Projects project with 36 SRO units, also 35 studio apartments in a separate building. 

"Lean" manufacturing": REACH CDC - SE PDX project

SquareOne Villages - Cottage Grove Village

Meyer Trust - Million Month Challenge program 

Program of Meyer Memorial Trust. 

See main article: Million Month Challenge

proposals Fall 2018

awardee projects - updates from Sept 2019


Rob Justus - Home First low-cost affordable housing



Guerrilla Development - Jolene's First Cousin project

See main article: Jolene's First Cousin


Co-op/condo villages - Orange Splot, etc

See also main article: Cluster housing.

Cully Grove

Sabin Green

Mason Street Townhomes


(9) 'bottom-up' and the Community Development tradition 

DeFilippis, James, and Susan Saegert (2012). The Community Development Reader (2nd edition, Routledge 2012). 

Frisch, Michael, and Lisa J. Servon (2006). "CDCs and the Changing Context for Urban Community Development: A Review of the Field and the Environment." Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society, Vol. 37, No. 4, Winter 2006. 

Immerwahr, Daniel (2018).  Thinking Small: The United States and the Lure of Community Development. Harvard University Press, 2015. 

O’Regan, K. M., Quigley, J. M. (2000). Federal Policy and the Rise of Nonprofit Housing Providers.
Journal of Housing Research, 11(2): 297-317.

Ryder, Marianne. "USP528 - Concepts of Community Development" [course syllabus, Portland State University, Winter 2019]. 

Simon, William H. (2002).  The Community Economic Development Movement: Law, Business, and the New Social Policy. Duke University Press, 2002.  $5.11

Stoecker, R. (1997). "The CDC Model of Urban Redevelopment: A Critique and an Alternative." Journal of Urban Affairs, 19(1): 1-22. PDF: 
"This paper questions the viability of an urban redevelopment model that relies on small communiry development corporations (CDCs) and proposes an alternative. Because most CDCs are severely undercapitalized, they can not keep up with accelerating decay. Their existence, and the emphasis placed on their supposed successes, allow elites to blame poor neighborhood CDCs rather than external conditions for redevelopment failure. The model also emphasizes that CDCs be community-based, but because their resource base is controlled from outside the neighborhood there is really very little community control over CDCs. CDCs may even delegitimize more empowerment-focused community organizing attempts by making them appear radical. Consequently, the CDC development process my actually disorganize poor communities by creating internal competition or disrupting social networks. An alternative model of neighborhood redevelopment is proposed which emphasizes community organizing, community-controlled planning, and high-capacity multi-local CDCs held accountable through a strong community organizing process."

Vidal, A. (1992). Rebuilding communities: A national study of urban community development corporations. 


(10) Future paths

Village cluster housing

villages as cluster housing / pocket neighborhoods - enabled by state law HB2001 and Portland RIP program? 

City of Milwaukie study

[add here my article on this in Village Collaborative group -tim.]. 

a path to larger co-operative building approaches, eg Baugruppe.

Created [mostly] by community capital, vs financial capital.

14 September 2019 post by Tim McCormick to American Tiny House Association, Oregon Chapter group on Facebook: 

To me it seems like a big, big potential opportunity for siting tiny houses, especially in Oregon, California, and Seattle, is in movable (and perhaps foundation-anchorable / deanchorable) tiny houses being accepted and facilitated in local accessory dwellings (ADU) ordinances, i.e. as backyard cottages. Also, in cluster-housing developments enabled on former single-family lots by new Oregon law (#HB2001), Portland law (pending RIP Residential Infill Program), and just-passed California ADU law.

The new Oregon Reach Code offers some help there by:

a) recognizing the use of standards applying to both vehicle and on-foundation cases, and making it easier to do both, e.g. with similar RV-type utility hookups; and

b) bringing movable tiny-house *into state building code*, which I think will make quite a difference in local governments approving this use for ADUs and other contexts.

What might take this even further?

Based partly on the Reach Code, I and friends in Portland have been developing for last year a proposal "New Starter Homes" for the city to pilot a wide-scale, affordable ADU program. It would help (and perhaps manage & pay for) low-income homeowners to put simple post foundations and utility hookups on their parcel, then help match them with low-income residents who'd bring, build or be offered use of a tiny house to put on the site. Tiny-house resident would pay pad rent & towards utilities, perhaps subsidized by city or funder.

Portland has 110,000 single-family lots which could take an ADU, according to Commissioner Eudaly's analysis. Currently there are ADUs on less than 2% of lots. If we could interest or incent just a few more % of homeowners to accept that simple and buryable post foundation being put in, and agree to 1-2 year lease hosting a tiny house, we could have 1000s of sitings in Portland.

Proposal: New Starter Homes:
Google Doc:

Comments & questions invited!


1) Oregon #HB2001, requires cottage clusters be allowed at least somewhere in all single-family residential zones above 25,000 population. See

2) Portland's proposed Residential Infill Program would enable fourplex developments on a large portion of residential lots citywide. RIP:

3) Also, in an August 26, 2019 memo, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) noted that as part of a new "Anti-displacement Action Plan" added to RIP, it is discussing an idea to allow sixplexes if at least 3 units are affordable at 60% Median Family Income. It's apparently inspired by a similar new law in Austin, "Affordability Unlocked."

4) Oregon's Building Codes Division last year passed a Tiny House Code which allows < 400 square foot homes, both mobile and on foundation, to be permitted in building code. It was recognized by Portland Bureau of Development Services, which assigned an official to develop implementation materials and help developers in Portland:

5). City of Milwaukie released in June an impressive report "Milwaukie Cottage Cluster Analysis Final Report (done with Orange Splot of Portland and Opticos), that analyzed various hypothetical cluster developments. It showed that even if developed on a conventional for-profit model, they could bring costs of some units way down to 30-60% of Area Mean Income, far lower than existing or new single-family housing in the area.

6. For a discussion of cottage clusters generally and how Portland might use them, see: Michael Andersen, "Cottage clusters: Portland’s chance to build community in a new way." Portland For Everyone, Nov. 2, 2017.

in Portland Residential Infill Project (RIP)

RIP is reducing the review procedure required for "planned developments" (PDs) which would include cluster housing, in most residential zones (R7, R5, R2.5). 

Portland, City of. Bureau of Planning & Sustainability. "Residential Infill Project: Recommended Draft, August 2019." Volume 1: Staff Report and Map Amendments

"7. Continue to allow different building forms and site arrangements through a planned development review. Affects R7, R5 and R2.5 zoned properties.

"Land use review procedures, in order from least to greatest level of process, include Type I and Ix, Type II and IIx, Type III and Type IV. Most PDs currently go through a Type III procedure, which is decided by a Hearings Officer and, if appealed, by City Council. By comparison, a Type IIx land use review, which applies to smaller land divisions, is less expensive, requires less time to process and is a staff decision that can be appealed to the Hearings Officer. Both procedure types utilize the same approval criteria and provide opportunities for appeals at both the City and State level. The recommended threshold for PDs is changed so that proposals for up to 20 units are processed as a Type IIx case, the same maximum number of units that can be reviewed through a Type IIx standard R2.5 subdivision (10 lots with two units each)."
Planned development. See Chapter 33.270


2 November 2019 post by Tim McCormick to American Tiny House Association, Oregon Chapter group on Facebook: 

reposting to this group a long reply to a suggestion that tiny houses aren't appropriate in cities, because too low density, from PDX YIMBY group.

Original post was sharing an article about Sacramento's Mayor, also chairperson of California Statewide Commission on Homelessness, calling for large statewide expansion of tiny-home approaches. ( Doug Klotz in PDX YIMBY group commented: "While tiny homes might fill in on suburban lots, for urban areas, especially near transit, they do not provide the necessary density. Only multistory does that." My extended reply below:

"Yes, I hope nobody considers tiny houses the answer to all housing needs/contexts or all homelessness issues. On the other hand, I also hope nobody considers our present set of approaches to be without major gaps and flaws, and large opportunities for change. Particularly, in my opinion, if you look at it from the bottom up -- i.e., what the most needy need, and what we could do with comparatively simple and decentralized approaches.

On density: yes, if you have a larger lot, zoned for multistory, and you have access to a lot of capital and good future rent revenues, then you can get more units with a large apartment building. However, most times and places in US cities are not like that, not even in most of inner Portland or with statewide HB2001 upzoning or citywide R.I.P. infill program. Most area of most US cities is 4-8000 square-foot lots with low-density residential, with prohibition of or strong opposition to large/high buildings. Available, financeable sites for large apartment buildings are scarce and costly, and will typically be built as market-rate, usually rental housing for the high end of market -- possibly with inclusionary housing units -- or sometimes as dedicated-affordable buildings, also costly per unit to build.

As a back-of-envelope exercise, we could take a typical Portland residential lot, of 50 x 100 feet, and consider development options. Assuming no on-site parking, and a 10' access way up the middle, it's plausible to create eight 20'x25' sub-lots, each of which could site most of the house models used at Emerald Village (see attached image). One unit might be a common building with shared kitchen, meeting/social space, etc.

I'm looking for examples of contemporary apartment buildings built in such a case, e.g. in Portland, and I'd say it's at least uncommon to put more than eight units on a site like this, though it can be done with small apartments, and has been done in other eras.

Aside from number of homes, an approach like dense, cluster, small housing has different characteristics and possibilities. First, it can require far less capital. Emerald Village, Eugene, for comparison (not that dense, but to compare model) is 22 mostly custom homes, total development cost including land $55k/home, which was financed by SquareOne Villages non-profit with small-scale grants and funds. (compared to $300-800k per affordable housing unit, typical range from Oregon to San Francisco).

This approach is also much more conducive to piecemeal and incremental development, both across a site and for an individual home which could be separately financed/finished/expanded over time -- this facilitates individual financing and building and owning. Which, incidentally, is characteristic of dwelling in many times and places, that gave people good opportunities to become owners and meet their needs -- including earlier eras in the US -- which is why I call a project proposal I'm working on for low-cost cottages, New Starter Homes.

Much lower capital requirements means many more parties can potentially develop, with different models such as limited-equity community land trust (e.g. SquareOne Villages), groups of people developing for their joint need (like Baugruppe model common in Germany, or any org/agency looking to create low-cost ownership housing.

Finally, I think small detached units have unusual potentials that we don't often think about. They can be pre-fabbed, so potentially built off-site more efficiently in all seasons, with much less construction disruption to area. They can be redeployable, so financed separately and more easily, and could move between interim-use, cluster-housing, or accessory-dwelling unit contexts. They can be built with very ecological materials, and have very low embedded and operating energy requirements. (home size is the #1 factor in building lifecycle energy use, along with driving less far to get to it). Also they can be more likely than large buildings to remain inhabitable after natural disasters like earthquakes, and can be relatively easily operated off grid; both of which sooner or later will be crucial when the Cascadia Fault earthquake hits Oregon.

When the Big One hits, I for one want to be living small, and cooperatively with neighbors."


Refugee, emergency, climate-change, & eco- villages? 

anticipating a long-term increase in disaster and climate-change related disruption in US and globally. 

Help provide models and learning for the US and globally. 

Bridging emergency/immediate response with long-term adaptation and resettlement. (a long-running thorny problem, at least since the previous age of mass dislocation, during/after WWII). 

Note that the Pacific Northwest already receives a large in-migration from US (especially to Portland, Seattle, & Oregon coast), and is predicted to increasingly do so from climate-change effects upon other parts of the US that likely will make SW & SE of US increasingly uninhabitable or agriculturally viable. 

Oregon could experience large refugee / resettler influxes from California due to earthquake or wildfire impacts.

Oregon could also at any time be hit by "the Big One" offshore Cascadia Fault earthquake which will destroy coastal areas and devastate much of the infrastructure of western Oregon. Up to 100,000s of Oregon could be displaced, have uninhabitable homes, be without utility water, sewage, gas, electricity for months to years. 


Redeployable tiny homes for village / ADU crossover use

see: New Starter Homes / PAD Initiative project document.  [McCormick 2019]

Precedent of San Francisco's 1906 "Earthquake Cottages". 

O'Connor, Charles James, et al (1913). San Francisco Relief Survey; the organization and methods of relief used after the earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906.  New York: Survey Associates, 1913..

Bottom-up regulation of land use

See article: "Hyperlocalism." YIMBYwiki. 

Myers, John. "Fixing Urban Planning with Ostrom: Strategies for existing cities to adopt polycentric, bottom-up regulation of land use." Prepared for delivery at the Workshop on the Ostrom Workshop (WOW6) conference, Indiana University Bloomington, June 19–21, 2019. Working draft dated 31st May 2019.



Integrating bottom-up/autonomous development with government support

Colin Ward. Talking Houses (1975). 
  "Dweller control" in public housing.  

from Karakusevic & Batchelor [2017]: Social Housing: Definitions and Design Exemplars:

"In the 21st century, the definition of [social housing] exists in multiple forms. Across Europe there are many distinct methods for delivering housing and in many of the countries featured in this book the term 'social' is rarely used at all. In the UK it is commonly (mis)understood as simply 'council housing', in France it is 'housing at moderate rent' (habitation a loyer modere), in Denmark it is 'common housing', in Germany 'housing promotion', while in Austria it is 'people's housing'. Uniting all of these, however, is the idea that there are and can be alternatives to a purely market-orientated system of provision and it is here, amidst the variety of alternative forms both new and old, that this book places itself. Within our definition of 'social housing' we present here public projects led by local authorities, philanthropic schemes led by charities and co-operative or collective schemes led by residents and the people who will live in them.
    Across Europe some form of strategic public oversight of housing supply has been maintained through a variety of means that includes direct building, subsidies, planning and rent control."
"This book's alternative narrative embraces those who want to create the homes they need by their own volition as groups and collectives. This is not contradictory to a social housing ethos, but rather a rediscovery of a grassroots form of social organization, which when blended with the support and advocacy of a local authority or a housing association can be part of a positive mix in provision." 

CDCs (Community Development Corporations) and CHDOs (Community Housing Development organizations):
emergence in 1960s. 

Housing vouchers and income support. 

Spohn, Richard B. (1972). "The Owner-Builder: Legislative Analysis and Recommendation." In [Turner & Fichtel, eds, Freedom to Build, 1972]. 

Harms, Hans H. "User and Community Involvement in Housing and Its Effect on Professionalism." In [Turner & Fichtel, eds, Freedom to Build, 1972].  
"Problems of insufficiency and inadequacy are immanent in the present housing supply structure, which is oriented toward the supply side and the construction of units according to procedures set by industry and government, and which subsidized industry, professional 'facilitating beneficiaries,' and the rich in order to provide housing for the poor...Direct subsidies to users in combination with a network of decentralized services could increase the autonomy of low-income families without setting up complicated mechanisms to regulate the lives of the poor or the process by which housing for the poor is created." 
Discusses 1968 Tent City in Boston. 

"The failures of the market- and state-based housing provision and the relative success of community-based home and neighborhood building (especially the so-called third world and supposedly developing countries) highlight the complementarities of these three essentially different 'sectors.'" 
- John F. C. Turner, Foreward to Nabeel Hamdi, Housing Without Houses, 1995. 

Political representation for the unhoused & unlanded

homeless unions, etc 

Sparks, Tony. "Citizens without property: Informality and political agency in a Seattle, Washington homeless encampment." Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space. September 20, 2016.
from Abstract:
"This article attempts to broaden and deepen the conversation on informal dwellings in the US by focusing on the tent encampment as a site of creative political agency and experimentation. Drawing upon a body of work referred to by some as “subaltern urbanism”, I examine how everyday practices of camp management produce localized forms of citizenship and governmentality through which “homeless” residents resist stereotypes of pathology and dependence, reclaim their rational autonomy, and recast deviance as negotiable difference in the production of governmental knowledge. Consideration of these practices, I argue, opens up the possibility of a of a view of encampments that foregrounds the agency of the homeless in the production of new political spaces and subjectivities."


Note, 4 Dec 2019

"I've been reading, researching, and book-searching along various threads relating to the Village Buildings community book project. Currently reading Autonomous City, a 2017 history/study of urban squatting in US & Europe; and before that, a 1999 book No Trespassing: Squatting, Rent Strikes, and Land Struggles Worldwide.

"My entry point there was thinking about how direct action and types of squatting/occupation have played a significant role in a good number of the village projects I'm studying -- such as Dome Village in '90s-'00s LA, and Dignity Village in Portland for which Dome Village was a key inspiration; and Right 2 Dream Too and even recently Kenton Women's Village, both also in Portland. Also, I've been interested for some years in developing-world squatter and informal settlements, was involved in NYC with the squat-originated community center ABC No Rio on the Lower East Side, etc. 

"This recent reading has given me more perspective about how large these phenomena are, and especially how significant they've been in the US and UK, from the patterns of land-claiming / occupation / squatting during US western frontier expansion, to scale of post-WWII and 1960s-on squatting across UK and in London & NY. 

"Thinking about this helped suggest an idea which I posted in several pieces on thread in Portland Homeless facebook group earlier today, proposing an 'At Large Neighborhood Association' to represent unhoused residents of Portland in the way that Neighborhood Association do the housed. With one purpose being, to build political power towards ends such as demanding use of public lands for shelter/housing, as Dignity Village and its community of supporters successfully did ca.2001. 

"At Large Neighborhood Association" (ALNA) 

Posted to Portland Homeless group on Facebook 
in comments on post:
"For unhoused representation, how about something like an At Large Neighborhood Association, ALNA -- or Neighborhood At Large Assocation, NALA =- or Unhoused Neighbor Association, UNA, to supplement Portland's other NAs? Having local civic bodies based on where one is housed rather leaves out those not housed, right?

"Incidentally, the 94 current neighborhood associations each represent on average about 7,000 residents, and the 2019 Point-in-Time count for Multomah County found 4,015 people who met HUD’s definition of homelessness. So an ALNA / NALA might be roughly on the same scale as NA in numbers of people.

"Yes there are organizations that currently represent the homeless from one standpoint or area or another. This might differ by
    a) having a defined mission to democratically represent the expressed interests of unhoused people across the city, analogous to that of existing neighborhood associations for specific areas; and
    b) being recognized and supported and evaluated by the city for this purpose, as NAs are. The idea being that unhoused people are now effectively unrepresented in this system, but they are residents of the city and so should have representation.
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly's initiative to reorganize the Neighborhood Associations system may, of course, point in a similar direction by recognizing groups other than the NAs.

How might an ALNA be run? Probably with an office somewhere central, leadership positions elected from within group as with NAs, some support staff, meetings. Since it would be city-wide, and represent people of often limited mobility, I think it would be important to develop ways beyond physical meetings for people to participate fully. For example, via phone, text messages, smartphone, online platform, mail, local gatherings to videoconference into meeting, etc.  Perhaps the head of or representative of ALNA could have a standing agenda item at City Council meetings to give updates and input from the unhoused community.

"Perhaps the ALNA could be given certain slightly different land-use[-for-the-landless] roles, such as:

  1. a voice on any homeless-related use (shelter, supportive housing, village) proposed citywide;
  2. advance notification of, right to contest/negotiate, and involvement in any 'sweeps', as you suggest.
  3. Identifying, selecting, requesting use of, and reclaiming public properties for use as safe parking, transitional village, or long-term village use.
  4. Organizational, political, & legal support for dedication of available public land, or leasing of private land, for shelter and rehousing use."

Right to Build and the "Citizen Sector" (Alastair Parvin et al): digital, distributed, mass self-build housing. 

Parvin, Alastair, and David Saxby, Cristina Cerulli, Tatjana Schneider (2011). "A Right to Build: The next mass-housebuilding industry." Architecture 00 and University of Sheffield School of Architecture, 2011.

Parvin, Alastair, and Andy Reeve. "Scaling the Citizen Sector." Medium, Oct 5, 2016.

Parvin, Alastair, and Andy Reeve. "Affordable Land." 2018. 



Constructing a legal right to housing

Moms4 Housing protest, Magnolia St, Oakland; photo by Molly Solomon

Solomon, Molly.  "What Would 'Housing as a Human Right' Look Like in California?" KQED News, 12 Feb 2020.

"Activists with a group of women that took over a vacant house in Oakland want to make the protest chant, ‘housing is a human right’ a reality by changing the California constitution.

"The group, Moms 4 Housing, is having preliminary conversations with East Bay Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta to introduce legislation that would 'establish a fundamental human right to housing,' said Leah Simon-Weisberg, an attorney representing the group. Details about what exactly would be in the proposed legislation or when it would be introduced are still being worked out, she said." [...]

"A right to adequate housing is not a requirement that states build free housing for the entire population, said Eric Tars, legal director at the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. Rather, he said, it devotes resources and protective measures to prevent homelessness, discrimination and promote permanent stable housing. That could take the form of more public housing and vouchers, incentives to develop affordable housing, rent control and inclusionary zoning.

“What that looks like at the local level is a lot of things that our country is doing already, but it needs to be brought to a fuller scale,” Tars said.

"Tars has spent most of his career researching housing and human rights law, and said it will take a bold move, like a legal right to housing, to address the country’s affordability crisis and growing homeless population. And time and political pressure is needed to shift housing policy at a local and national level toward a rights-based paradigm.

"'I'm hopeful that we're laying the rhetorical framework to envision housing as a right so that we can then build the political momentum to actually implement it,' Tars said.

"Recognizing a legal or human right to housing could give advocates, tenants and people experiencing homelessness a tool to hold landlords legally responsible for spiking rents high or to sue cities that are not building sufficient affordable housing."



Alexander, Lisa T [2015].  "Occupying the Constitutional Right to Housing." 94 Neb. L. Rev. 245 (2015).
Available at:

"This Article's central thesis is that the conflict and contestation between [U.S. housing rights movements and private property advocates who seek to thwart these movements' efforts] helps forge new understandings of how local housing and property entitlements can be equitably allocated, consistent with the human right to housing and U.S. constitutional norms. While there is no formal federal, state, or constitutional right to housing in America, these movements' illegal occupations and local housing reforms concretize the human right to housing in local American laws, associate the human right to housing with well-accepted constitutional norms, and establish the contours of the human right to housing in the American legal consciousness.' These movements construct the human right to housing in American law by establishing through private and local laws a right to remain, a right to adequate and sustainable shelter, a right to housing in a location that preserves cultural heritage, a right to a self-determined community, and a right to equal housing opportunities for non-property owners, among other rights. By challenging local property rights, these movements also demonstrate how non-property owners, who lack adequate housing, also lack equal dignity, equal opportunity, equal citizenship, privacy, personal autonomy, and self-determination-all norms explicit in the U.S. constitutional order. 

Note particularly:  
III. Occupying the American Right to Housing
   A. Eminent Domain for Squatters' Control of Land 
   B. Eminent Domain for Local Principal Reduction
   C. Zoning Micro-Homes for the Homeless




(11) Problem/objection patterns

(i.e. commonly raised objections, & responses). 

we shouldn't lower housing standards, we should provide enough funding

OR, temporary or substandard housing/shelter isn't and distracts from the real solution, housing

'temporary' housing or shelter is now widely deprecated as a homelessness response, in US & European official/mainstream positions. It is said to divert from the real solution, permanent housing, and it doesn't end homelessness.  [shelter and temporary housing are now defined to be states of homelessness]. 

Culhane, Dennis P. & Stephen Metraux. "Rearranging the Deck Chairs or Reallocating the Lifeboats? Homelessness Assistance and Its Alternatives." Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol 74, Issue 1, 2008, pp111-121.  [full text].

Herring, Chris. "The New Logics of Homeless Seclusion:Homeless Encampments in America's West Coast Cities." City & Community 13.4 (2014): 285-309. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

Herring, Chris (2015). "Tent City, America." Places Journal, December, 2015.


tiny houses / villages don't provide the needed density for urban areas



'Self build' and lower standards facilitate exploitation, inequality, defunding

e.g. Giancarlo De Carlo's critique of CIAM and "Existunzminimum" / Basic housing concepts, in "Architecture's Public's," as serving interests of inequality and exploitation.

We shouldn't endorse the idea that low- or very-low-income housing can be created without public subsidy -- this undermines the ongoing urgent effort to increase public funding. 

If acceptable housing standards (e.g. dwelling space, facilities) are lowered in cases or one area, it allows or creates pressure for them to be lowered more widely, and this will lower living standards for many. 

Ward, Peter (1999). Colonias and Public Policy in Texas and Mexico: Urbanization by Stealth. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999).
["describes how a two-tier system of housing regulations was gradually codified by the state in Mexico, leading to the legitimization of sub-optimal informal housing for the poor."].


Different housing for the poor and unhoused makes it stigmatized & unintegrated

Stigma on or deliberate demarcation (positive or negative) on social housing. 

US case of restricted and differentiated style/materials, vs e.g. WPA, Vienna, UK examples of positive socialist and civic symbolism. 

Homeless and low-income people shouldn't be expected to take less/different or 'substandard' housing vs other people. 


Lower cost/standard housing may be more costly in long run


Lower building costs help developers, but don't lower prices

housing diversity - letting dwellers choose/adapt housing that matches their value priorities. issues with government funding restrictions / mandates. 




(12) Essay/article ideas - possible book chapters

sections separately published/publishable as essay or article, which could become or be adapted into a book chapter):

The fixed and the mobile

Historical and archetypal patterns of 

Cain and Abel story:

Allen, John J. (2011). "The Mixed Economies of Cain and Abel: An Historical and Cultural Approach." Conversations with the Biblical World, Vol 31. 

Jackson, John Brinckerhoff. "The Mobile Home, and how it came to America." in Discovering the Vernacular Landscape (1984). 

Hailey, Charlie (2003). "Camp(site): architectures of duration and place." Ph.D dissertation, University of Florida, 2003.


A Pattern Language for Housing Affordability

possibly for an Appendix.
See main article: A Pattern Language for Housing Affordability.

Housing solutionism, and the best versus the good. 

It's an appealing, intuitive, idea, and often said in the homelessness world: the solution to homelessness is housing. (eg here by National Alliance to End Homelessness Who could disagree? What devil would want that they shouldn't have housing?

However, perhaps it is a bit like saying the solution to cancer is to not have cancer. It's true enough, but how? Perhaps, in the case of cancer, first by studying how and doing what helps prevent it, e.g. health practices and environmental protections; then, how soonest to detect it, since sooner remedies are much more effective; then what techniques are best to treat it; then, how to fairly choose what to do, given competing prevention/treatment options to approve or fund. The goal is clear but there are many paths.



The self-evidentness of "Housing ends homelessness" belies the complex history of how it arose, and what work it does in the field. It is associated with the late-1990s categorizing the "chronicly homeless" (Culhane & Kahn, 1998, etc), who permanently need and can be effectively treated (Tsemberis 1999 etc) with conventional housing plus services, provided without treatment preconditions ("Housing First"). Increasingly this has been generalized into the officially endorsed concept for all homelessness response, and used to oppose or limit support for 'shelters,' or anything classified as transitional housing, and sometimes also charitable services such as mobile showers (e.g. Parsell & Watts, 2017).

Also, "housing ends homelessness" or Housing First ideas are typically used to argue, explicitly or implicitly, for providing housing that is the same as current, conventional market housing (see e.g. PSU HRAC's 2019 homelessness report); or a variant, "supportive housing," usually defined as that plus on-site medical and social services/facilities. Often, there is an argument that this is not only the best thing to, but saves public money by reducing use of other services -- which, while it helps to seal a slam-dunk case, turns out to be generally doubtful, and anyway unfortunate in arguing that helping the needy must pay for itself.

Or often, now, permanent supportive housing is seen as the /only/ solution. For example, a recent OPB story "Multnomah County Seeing Spike In People Experiencing Chronic Homelessness" quoted Multnomah County / City of Portland Joint Office of Homeless Services: "Jolin said the office already knows what the solution is. 'The fact that we don’t have supporting housing is why we’re seeing a persistent increase in the chronically homeless over time,' he said." The Joint Office "defines supportive housing as housing that is affordable to those with 'very limited to almost no income' and is equipped with onsite mental health treatment and other support services." [though the US Interagency Council on Homelessness doesn't consider on-site required:; and Sam Tsemberis, chief promulgator of the approach, defined it initially as, and prefers, housing that is *not* integrated with on-site services].

So for example, we see, as city response to homelessness, policy like the 2016 Housing Bond, dedicating $258M to create 1,300 units of permanently affordable housing, 600 for households below 30% of AMI, 300 of them Permanent Supportive Housing. Portland Housing Bureau just announced they have hit goal, (via the crucial factor of state law changing to allow funding of private projects), funding 1,424 units, with $213M of the money -- 64% new units, 36% acquisition/rehab. That averages $150k of city funding per unit, probably higher for the new units, and total subsidy per unit much higher due to partner developers bringing other subsidy funds such as LIHTC tax credits, so I'll loosely guess $300k/unit. These projects also have significant rent income from most home recipients, via income or benefits.

One issue with these projects is what housing economists call the "crowding out" effect of subsidized housing. They are generally in good locations which, given the level of housing demand, would likely otherwise have been developed as market-rate housing. While subsidized projects clearly help the city's affordability more, it should be compared to what positive affordability effect the market-rate housing might have had; and also, what alternately could be done with the subsidies.

The basic problem here is that we have a quite costly response, of creating/acquiring housing units at $100k's each, which is helping only a small part of the needy population; and we have both a large needy population existing, but steady inflow of more people into homelessness. Of course, we could say (and advocates often do say) that we just need to greatly scale up the response. But do we even know how much impact the current approach has, that we would know how much it would need scaling? I think we hardly know or agree on that at all.

Official announcements and advocacy often state or imply that 100 units of permanent supportive housing would reduce chronic homelessness by 100 households; but aggregate-effects research, such as reviewed by O'Flaherty in his recent lit review, find dramatically different results, of < 10 household reduction for every 100 new PSH units. (O'Flaherty, Brendan. "Homelessness Research: A Guide for Economists (and Friends)." Journal of Housing Economics (2019), doi: PDF:

In any case, when confronted with a large social project such as ending homelessness, shouldn't we ask how best, cost-effectively, and expeditiously it can be done, and not just accept a "trust us!" from the establishment in charge? Is it undignifying the homeless, to ask what housing is, how it can be done anew? I think it's more undignifying to suggest that the answers are all known, to a monumentally complex and severe problem stretching on for decades and in many places including West Coast cities, getting worse. With deep respect for the many committed, caring, expert people working in this field -- and recognizing that experienced advocates may feel embattled and inclined to circle wagons and use what rhetoric seems to work -- I think, as Giancarlo De Carlo said: architecture is too important to be left to the architects. ("Architecture's Public", 1970).

In my opinion, towards housing for all, governments should focus on first on reducing overall housing scarcity and cost factors, then on the potential for helping the least-served with a housing benefit (i.e. voucher), and then on enabling in the most cost-effective way the largest possible amount of basic housing options, in the way that least crowds out other housing production; and by combining all means, move towards an effective "right to housing." Some obvious candidates for where governments might look for lowest-subsidy-cost, adequate new dwellings are: incenting and facilitating house-sharing, of underutilized e.g. empty-nest homes; and likewise, low-cost accessory dwelling and cottage cluster housing aimed at low-income households.

The seemingly obvious "housing ends homelessness" answer, in my opinion, unfortunately tends to evade necessary analyses, and considering issues broadly and radically. It tends to promote a costly new-housing 'cure' over possibly much more cost-effective preventions or treatments, it tends to occlude the question of what counts or works as 'housing,' and how it might be done differently. Exactly contrary to hopes, it may help tend to frame the problem such that it will never be solved, at least in our time.


thread with Watts et al:

cf: Parsell, Cameron, and Beth Watts. "Charity and Justice: A Reflection on New Forms of Homelessness Provision in Australia." European Journal of Homelessness. Volume 11, No. 2, December 2017.

Abstract: Charity directed at people who are homeless is invariably portrayed as positive. The good intentions of the provider of charity are not only lauded, but equated with positive outcomes for the receiver. The often severe material deprivation experienced by those who are homeless appears to justify the celebration of an extremely low bar of resource provision. Extending what has been the historic provision of food, drinks, blankets, and other day-to-day means of survival, contemporary charity in Australia also includes the provision of mobile shower, mobile clothes washing, and mobile hair dressing facilities. The emergence of similar ‘novel’ interventions to ‘help the homeless’ are seen in a wide range of other countries. In this paper we examine the consequences of providing charity to people who are homeless; consequences for the giver, receiver, and society more broadly. Drawing on the ideas of Peter Singer and the ‘effective altruist’ movement as a possible corrective to this prevailing view of charity, we suggest that such charitable interventions may not only do little good, but may actually do harm. We further argue that justice is achieved when inequities are disrupted so that people who are homeless can access the material condition required to exercise autonomy over how they live, including the resources required to wash, clothe and feed themselves how and when they choose. 


Parsell, Cameron. "Homelessness, Identity, and our Poverty of Ambition." Keynote address at 14th European Research Conference on Homelessness. 20 September 2019, Helsingborg, Sweden. 
Presentation slides:
Video: (2:40 - 33:20). 
    "We overserve people who are experiencing homelessness, and this overservicing represents one of the key barriers to actually ending it." (near start).
     "Homelessness exists in Australia and increases because actually we pity them, we pity them 
as someone deficient, as the downtrodden, as a group of people that we want to exercise our compassion towards. Whereas a few years ago we were talking about justice, we were talking about evidence, we were talkingabout ending homelessness, this is what we're doing in Australia now:  we're actually giving brand new vans and washing machines, and driving around washing their clothes."


Culhane, Dennis P. & Stephen Metraux. "Rearranging the Deck Chairs or Reallocating the Lifeboats? Homelessness Assistance and Its Alternatives." Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol 74, Issue 1, 2008, pp111-121.  [full text].


Housing from the bottom up: homelessness and global self-build traditions 


vernacular self/community-built architecture - the global & historical norm. 

squatter / "One-night house" global tradition in law & folklore - cf Colin Ward histories.  See article: One night house

anarchist tradition: Kropotkin, Ebenezer Howard, Colin Ward, Giancarlo De Carlo, J.F.C. Turner

"Non Plan" movement in UK

Latin America - J.F.C. Turner "Freedom to Build"

vernacular housing: J.B. Jackson, et al. 

"Right to the City" activism: Lefebvre, David Harvey, etc. 

1960s onward - alternative housing - Whole Earth catalog, Shelter Publishing, etc.

Kern, Ken. The Owner-Built Home. (Homestead Press, 1972).


State-aided Self-help housing

Harris, Richard (1999). "Slipping through the Cracks: The Origins of Aided Self-help Housing, 1918-53." Housing Studies, Vol. 14, No. 3, 281-309, 1999.

Middle East - Hassan Fathy

UK - Walter Segal self-build method - council housing, Lewisham, LondonUS community/occupation housing 1960s-mobile/temporary vs permanent housing;  emergency response vs permanent rebuilding

J.B. Jackson; Ian Davis "Shelter After Disaster" 1978.

the Principle of Requisite VarietyBhatt, Vikram, et al. "How the Other Half Builds - Vol 3: The Self-Selection Process." Centre for Minimum Cost Housing, McGill University, Research Paper No. 11, March 1990.

Hamdi, Nabeel. 1995. Housing without Houses: Participation, Flexibility, Enablement.  Warwickshire: Practical Action Publishing (formerly Intermediate Technology Publications), The Schumacher Centre, 1995.

Hamdi, Nabeel (2004). Small Change: About the art of practice and the limits of planning in cities. London: Earthscan, 2004.

Kapur, Purnima. "From Ideas to Practice: 'Self-Help' in Housing From Interpretation to Application." M.S. Architecture Studies and M.C.P. thesis, MIT, 1989.  [advisor: Nabeel Hamdi].


Holtzman, Ben.  "When the Homeless Took Over." ["As the homeless and affordable housing crises become a focus on local and national campaigns, we must remember the rich history and critical contributions of homeless organizers."] Shelterforce, October 11, 2019

Roy, Ananya (2003). “Paradigms Of Propertied Citizenship: Transnational Techniques of Analysis,” Urban Affairs Review, vol. 38, no. 4 (2003): 463–91. DOI: PDF: 
"Abstract: The American paradigm of propertied citizenship has far-reaching consequences for the propertyless, as in the brutal criminalization of the homeless. Activist groups, such as the anarchist squatter organization Homes Not Jails, have sought to challenge this paradigm through innovative techniques of property takeovers, invocations of American traditions of homesteading, and Third World tactics of self-help and informality. This study trains a transnational lens on both the paradigm and its subversions. Posing Third World questions of the First World, the author seeks to unsettle the normalized hierarchy of development and underdevelopment and explores lessons that can be learned from different modes of shelter struggles."




"Housing For All, the Minimum Dwelling, and the problem of standards."

Teige, The Minimum Dwelling (English version)
Teige, The Minimum Dwelling (English version)

the 'Existenzminimum' tradition: 

Teige, The Minimum Dwelling (1932). 
CIAM II Congress, 1929. 

Brysch, Sara. "Reinterpreting Existenzminimum in Contemporary Affordable Housing Solutions." Urban Planning. Vol 4, No 3 (2019).

Korbi, Marson, and Andrea Migotto. "Between Rationalization and Political Project: The Existenzminimum from Klein and Teige to Today." Urban Planning. Vol 4, No 3 (2019).

Mumford, Eric. "CIAM and Its Outcomes." 

Porotto, Alessandro, and Chiara Monterumisi. "New Perspectives on the II CIAM onwards: How Does Housing Build Cities?"

"Just enough" - minimalism, ecology, & justice in housing

book Just Enough by Azby Brown - Edo Japan as a social/technological apex in sustainable communities. 

Minimum Cost Housing Group (McGill University School of Architecture). "Publications."

Homelessness and disaster: comparing and combining responses

"Housing in the twentieth century has been one continuing emergency." 
- Charles Abrams, "The Future of Housing." 1946. 

In the long run, we're all homeless

Natural vs unnatural disasters: why is homelessness different? 

comparing & combining responses to homelessness, catastrophe. 


from comment in Village Collaborative group by Tim about post on SOS "Stewardship Villages", San Francisco: 

"This presentation from Saint Francis Homeless Challenge highlights the large current and potential overlaps between homelessness response, 'emergency' or 'disaster' response, and climate-change adaptation -- e.g. off-grid and decarbonized energy sources. It's fruitful to compare ways these two situation types thought of and responded to, or might be, and I'm exploring this in an essay draft, "Homelessness and disaster: comparing and combining responses," for #VillageBuildings web/book project. What do you think, why with homelessness do we not help everyone equally and best we can, as with 'natural' disasters? 

This is a perennial question posed with homelessness. Perhaps the different response is because 'disaster' is seen as a well-defined and specific, rather than many-causal and ongoing, affliction; affecting people equally and regardless of their actions?

What do you think, why with homelessness do we not help everyone equally and as best we can

Saint Francis' choice of label for their model, "S.O.S." (Safe Organized Spaces) signals 'emergency' -- also, saving souls -- and in the presentation below they focus on solar power supply "which could provide off-grid energy for our proposed 180 Jones, Tenderloin prototype village and for future sites, as well as for disaster relief situations and as a mobile charging station for the unhoused."

But disaster effects actually often are many-causal, ongoing, and avoidable: for example, all kinds of societal decisions create disaster vulnerability, especially for the marginalized, such as steering them into relatively unsafe housing, in flood plains or landslide zones;  not building or maintaining levees, not investing in early-warning systems, sirens, emergency response systems, emergency transport capability, first aid supplies, and shelters.  

Conversely, for the more privileged, society has long permitted and even subsidized housing in disaster-prone areas such as near shore on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, canyon and hill areas in California urban edges.  They are subsidized by explicit or implicit insurance (e.g. Federal flood insurance, and expectation that costly emergency response and rebuilding will recurringly be undertaken by government).  These are cases where the 'disasters' are somewhat predictable, in that wildfires and storms/hurricanes are known to reoccur, yet people keep building and rebuilding in places where they probably wouldn't if they were fully bearing the disaster risk. 

Aquilino, Marie, ed. Beyond Shelter: Architecture and Human Dignity. (New York, NY: Metropolis Books, 2011).
ISBN 9781935202479[1].
   Part 1. Architecture after disaster : 
Learning from Aceh / Andrea Fitrianto --
Beyond shelter in the Solomon Islands / Andrea Nield --
News from the Teardrop Island / Sandra D'Urzo --
From transitional to permanent shelter: invaluable partnerships in Peru / International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies --
   Part 2. What should governments do? : 
When people are involved / Thiruppugazh Venkatachalam --
Citizen architects in India / Rupal and Rajendra Desai --
What about out cities?: Rebuilding Muzaffarabad / Maggie Stephenson, Sheikh Ahsan Ahmed, and Zahid Amin --
   Part 3. Urban risk and recovery : 
Below the sill plate: New Orleans East struggles to recover / Deborah Gans with James Dart --
Slumlifting: an informal toolbox for a new architecture / Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner --
Sustainable communities: avoiding disaster in the informal city / Arlene Lusterio --
Camouflaging disaster: 60 linear miles of local transborder urban conflict / Teddy Cruz --
Cultural heritage and disaster mitigation: a new alliance / Rohit Jigyasu --
   Part 4. Environmental resilience : 
Green recovery / Anita van Breda and Brittany Smith --
The home as the world: Tamil Nadu / Jennifer E. Duyne Barenstein --
Design as mitigation in the Himalayas / Francesca Galeazzi --
On beauty, architecture, and crisis: the Salem Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Sudan / Raul Pantaleo --
   Part 5. Teaching as strategic action : 
Cultivation resilience: the BaSiC Initiative / Sergio Palleroni --
Studio 804 in Greensburg, Kansas / Don Rockhill and Jenny Kivett --
Sustainable knowledge and internet technology / Mehran Gharaati, Kimon Onuma, and Guy Fimmers --
   Part 6. Is prevention possible? : 
More to lose: the paradox of vulnerability / John Norton and Guillaume Chantry --
Building peace across African frontiers / Robin Cross and Naomi Handa Williams --
Haiti 2010: reports from the field / Marie J. Aquilino --
Afterword : 
Open letter to architects, engineers, and urbanists / Patrick Coulombel.

Architecture for Humanity, Cameron Sinclair, & Kate Stohr. Design Like You Give a Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crisis. 2006.

Cuny, Frederick C. (1983). Disasters and Development. 1983. Full text:

Davis, Ian (1978). Shelter After Disaster


Appendix A: A Pattern Language For Housing Affordability

See main article: A Pattern Language for Housing Affordability


Appendix B: Project/book form ideas


"Revillaging the Book" concept - cooperative development, funding, and value-sharing

my ideal approach might be this: 

Developed incrementally and openly

by writing & disseminating articles, gathering feedback, soliciting suggestions for approaches/projects to include, and most usable ways to present.
  STRATEGY: to extent possible, keep developing the project in public wiki, in relatively self-contained sub-topic articles. This means: a) it's never really yet-unpublished, it's just a gradually or steadily improving state.  b) open for others to contribute, ask questions, give feedback;  c) sub-topic articles may be useful for other purposes too, as soon as they're created.  d) a 'book' will be just a certain gathering-point from this material, but overall it can continue developing. 

Living book

the book-in-progress is a web-hosted living version, on a stable and sustainable and securely-archived (i.e. automatic to Internet Archive) platform, which can collaboratively evolve to include new projects, concepts, research, bibliography.  This living version is noted and linked to from every copy of the book, whether print, ebook, etc.  The living book platform allows open comment and suggestions, and shows current in-process state, and possibly periodic new release versions. (as with software). 


Cooperative funding/development and value sharing

Early on, establish a funding/contribution goal (say, $40,000 in financial or in-kind contribution) which is expected to be sufficient to reach a defined completion milestone, i.e. first publication. Financial or work contributors are offered equity stakes based on the contribution's proportion of the total goal. Any offer/grant of equity would be publicly and immutably recorded (e.g. with some blockchain mechanism, but not necessarily, may not be needed).  All contributors are credited in the book & platform, and automatically receive a share of any any future (post-publication) net profits, in proportion to equity stake. 

A more sophisticated version of this approach would allow for project equity to be resold under certain conditions, as in a housing cooperative. For example, equity stakes or 'tokens' can have a planned or demand-set price change over time while fundraising, incenting early contributions. Project contributors who receive equity stake for work, can potentially have a way to get income for their work.

In either of the cases above, of equity having resale value or not, there is potential for the mechanism to be viewed by the US governmentas a 'security' subject to securities regulations. Compliance would probably be untenable, so the project would need to be designed to avoid risk of this classification. 
The interest here is probably not so much in anyone making notable money, but in exploring a new model for cooperative projects that share credit, resources, and rewards, in order to be more effective and fair.

This builds on earlier work discussed in "Cooperative Product Development" (notes / paper draft) by Tim McCormick, January 2016.

Open / cooperative licensing 


Licensing is CC-BY-NC. This means, other people and organizations can use and create derivative works, except in commercial contexts, for which they would have to request licensing. 

STRATEGY:  establish at start a policy of allowing content sharing, by default and potentially automatically (except perhaps special permission images, etc) from Village Buildings to the other partners, e.g. to HousingWiki and a Village Collaborative wiki. 

STRATEGY:  set plan for, at later phase, a) converting to more unrestricted open licensing, e.g. CC-BY;  b) migrating articles/materials into other places such as A Pattern Language For Growing Regions (APLFGR - Michael Mehaffy & Ward Cunningham wiki), and Wikipedia. 

Key book contents such as project discussions and analyses of patterns may be adapted into Wikipedia, and/or other open online resources, for maximum dissemination and impact. 

Cross-referenced to e.g. Wikipedia, HousingWiki, etc to build completeness as a reference resource. 

--> building towards a broad, growing, public repository of public-interest housing/building materials. 



Hybrid print/electronic publishing

Book is available in print for sale; epub/mobi ebooks for sale in e-commerce channels e.g. Amazon; epub/mobi/PDF/HTML donate-what-you-wish on our and partner sites (Village Collaborative, HousingWiki, etc). 




Graphically innovative, bold design emphasizing 

a) "pattern language" approach of mapping very wide range of approaches, and analyzing how different projects may embody multiple patterns to various degrees. 
b) Holistic / "overview" angle: e.g. provide estimates for how much housing and what affordability impact each approach might conceivably enable. 



Potential integration with A Pattern Language for Growing Regions 

Michael Mehaffy, a student and collaborator of Christopher Alexander, and director of the Portland-based Sustasis Foundation, has been developing a new book to extend A Pattern Language, called A Pattern Language for Growing Regions. It is planned for publication on late 2019, with a public draft now open for comments, and extensible online repository. 

"56 new patterns will address new challenges, including rapid urbanization, declining public space, urban sustainability, new technology, economic tools and strategies, geometric patterns, and more.  This draft version will be finalized later in 2019, along with an on-line repository of these and other new patterns, based on Ward Cunningham's new federated wiki.  Ward was the inventor of Wiki, and a pioneer of "pattern languages of programming" -- for which he developed the first wiki.  His new "federated wiki" has exciting new capabilities which we hope to exploit in the new repository.  Ward is a board member of Sustasis Foundation and Sustasis Press. 

"Our goal is to exploit the powerful successes of wikis, pattern languages of programming, and other outgrowths of pattern languages, returning again to the challenges of cities, buildings, and public spaces. We are collaborating with many former students and colleagues of Christopher Alexander, as well as others who have used pattern languages effectively in other domains.  We are also working with people in many countries around the world. We want to make a tool that allows people in any part of the world to use, edit, add, revise and develop their own pattern languages for their own projects, contributing at the same time to a growing resource of patterns for others to share. "

We've been discussing with Michael and have suggested, could there be a section, supplement, or supplemental volume to #APLFGR for housing affordability patterns? Mehaffy talks about wikis and pattern-languages as tools for "consensus development." In that vein, I've been thinking with this book concept about how to show varied patterns - from public housing to 'abundant' market housing - as all being possible sources of or factors in affordability. As integrable, instead of conflicting, ideas/approaches.



Relation to other books / web resources

Tent City Urbanism book (2014): consider this project as a sequel / complement to this book. Perhaps possible to use same "Village Collaborative" imprint? 
-> avoid redundant material.
-> consider what are natural follow-on questions and topics, gaps, from 2014 book; and what could make new book as valuable, and complementary. 
    -> present results of pilots / hypotheses from 2014 book. 
    -> new conceptual extensions.  

SquareOne Villages' Toolbox resource, portions of which such as house plans require a $10/mo donor membership. 

CPID publications / publicity

Meyer Memorial Trust materials. 

Village Coalition site. 


Potential grant sponsors or collaborators:

  • SquareOne Villages 
  • Portland State University, Center for Public Interest Design 
  • Portland State University, Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative
  • City Repair Project
  • Sustasis Foundation, Portland
  • Architecture firms that have done POD Initiative, Plywood POD Initiative, or Emerald Village / Cottage Village designs and prototypes. 


Name ideas

  • Revillaging the World1: new models for affordable housing from Oregon
    1this expression is used and I think was possibly coined by Mark Lakeman of Communitecture / Village Repair Project, Portland. Discuss use with him "Revillaging the city" was apparently used by Dan Yashinsky as far back as 2011. 
  • Village Buildings: new affordable housing models from Oregon
  • The Oregon Housing Experiment
  • The Portland Experiment 
  • A Pattern Language for Affordable Housing: New Models from Oregon

(the last three titles allude to works of Christopher Alexander et al: The Oregon Experiment (1975), which "describes an experimental approach to campus community planning at the University of Oregon, in Eugene, Oregon which resulted in a theory of architecture and planning described in the group's later published and better-known volumes A Pattern Language (1977) and The Timeless Way of Building (1979)."
   "A pattern language is a method of describing good design practices or patterns of useful organization within a field of expertise. The term was coined by architect Christopher Alexander and popularized by his 1977 book A Pattern Language." (Wikipedia). 



Appendix C: book proposal draft 

In case we consider proposing this project to a publisher, and useful to consider in any case, here are questions from: "Guidelines for Submitting a Proposal to Island Press"

1. General Overview: Introduce your subject and argument. Explain why your book is needed; what does it offer readersthat is new? Describe your overall approach and structure.


2. Table of Contents: List allchapters, along with any front matter (introductions/prefaces, etc.) and back matter (appendices/charts/references/sources lists/index, etc.). Annotate each chapter briefly.


3. Audience: Define your intended audience and explain why the book will appeal to them. Include well-defined groups of readers (e.g.,members of particular professions or academic fields). List the relevant associations that are most important for the audience for your book and identify those in which you are active. If your book is primarily intended for students, please describe the courses that should adopt it.


4. Author Information: Give a brief rundown of your occupation. Summarize your areas of expertise and explain why you are qualified to write the book. In addition, please submit a CV or resume.


5. Marketing Platform: Describe your professional activities and writing experience (with a focus on books, articles, blogs). Have you been interviewed by the media on a topic related to your book or do you have other experience with media outreach? What is the size of your network (contacts who could helpwith the promotion of the book)? If you give lectures or workshops, include a summary of your activities for the past year. If you have a well-developed social media network, please explain.


6. Competing/Comparable Titles: List any previously published titles that are similar to your book in topic, approach, or writing style (please specify which). What about your proposed book is different, timely, and important in comparison to existing print or online information on the topic? For course-adoption books, what is the primary benefit to an instructor in using your text rather than competing titles?


7. Production Considerations: Estimate when you plan to complete your manuscript. Estimate the manuscript’s word count and the number of photographs and other illustrations (maps, diagrams, graphs, etc.) that you plan to include. Please include sample images.


8. Course Materials: If your book is intended primarily for course use, please describe any ancillary material you would be willing to share (PowerPoint slides, sample syllabi, study questions, charts, graphs, pictures, videos).


9. Writing Samples: If you have already drafted book chapters, or have writing samples that are germane to your proposed subject, please include them with the proposal.


10. Submission: If you are submitting files larger than 2MB(high-resolution art samples for example), please send them via a file-sharing service such as Box, Dropbox, or WeTransfer.


11. Is there any other information that would be helpful to us as we consider your project?





see main article: Village Buildings bibliography


Thanks for feedback from and conversations with:
Michael Andersen, Sightline Institute.
Elise Aymer, Critical Diversity Solutions - Toronto / Berkeley.
Sue Gemmell, Portland.
Andrew Heben - SquareOne Villages, Eugene.
Sarah Iannarone. Portland activist & 2020 mayoral candidate. 
Mark Lakeman, Communitecture / City Repair Project, Portland
Margarette Leite, PSU Center for Public Interest Design
Michael Mehaffy - Sustasis Foundation, Portland.
John McCormick, AIA, AICP (Emeritus) - Portland.
Julia Mollner, Carleton Hart Architecture & PSU Center for Public Interest Design
Michael Parkhurst, Meyer Memorial Trust. 
Alastair Parvin, Open Systems Lab, London.
Kol Peterson -, etc, Portland.
Sherry Shultz, Springfield/Eugene MicroDwellers.
Eli Spevak, Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission.



Authors/editor bio notes


To Do

- review Tent City Urbanism, and references section. 
- research Print on Demand options - ask Andrew, Steven 
- villagebuildings twitter.
- VB logo?
- VB domain registration
- VB site 


Potential research visits

Jolene's First Cousin project, Portland

Kenton Women's Village new site. 

Seattle - LIHI, current villages, BLOCK Project, prefab ADU developers.

Eugene & Cottage Grove - update on SquareOne Villages projects. 

Tiny House Villages in north Bay / Sonoma?  (Darin Dinsmore)

Oakland - Community Cabin sites, Safe Parking sites. 

Fresno - any tiny-house-on-wheels ADUs?

Los Angeles - Skid Row

Las Vegas - Llamalopolis / Airstream Park. (2016 article with lots of photographs). 

Vancouver, B.C. - Temporary Modular Housing projects. 


Things to read next: 

(see also updated list in Tim's Workflowy)