Tiny homes making winter more bearable for homeless people in Portland

Image: KPTV

Even though Portlanders are dealing with bitterly cold temperatures right now, a lot of homeless people are better off this winter thanks to dozens of tiny homes.

For the past year, local businesses and students have stepped up to build and donate tiny homes to groups like the Right To Dream Too community in north Portland.Last year, Gordon Bergquist was sleeping in a tent on the street, trying to make it through the brutal snowstorms.“Oh, it was a lot colder. A lot colder,” said Bergquist. “Plus, we had such a horrible winter last year – all the snow and ice and stuff.”Now, he’s sleeping in a tiny home at Right To Dream Too. Bergquist proudly showed FOX 12 around his modest house.“Oh, it’s not bad. I’ve got all my clothes there and my little bed. It’s not fancy, but it’s got all my stuff," he said. Portland Fire & Rescue Captain Louisa Jones said the tiny homes offer much needed relief for homeless people, but they present a new challenge regarding the fire code. The structures fall into a gray area between residential and commercial buildings.

Fire officials can’t force the residents to install smoke alarms, but they encourage them to do so. They also stop by to hand out fresh batteries and remind the residents about fire prevention. “We’re always talking about heating appliances, making sure your combustibles are away and you have good clearance with that,” said Jones.Bergquist does not have a smoke detector in his house, but there is no smoking or open flames allowed in the tiny homes and fire extinguishers are mounted every few feet. Bergquist said he is more than happy to follow all the rules. “It’s a lot better than being in a tent, there’s no doubt about that," he said.

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