Waldport church takes action to help homeless

St. Luke by the Sea erected two Conestoga Huts onsite in Waldport, where they are taking action to help those in need by offering housing and support as the residents' transition from incarceration to society. (Photo by Cheri Brubaker)

WALDPORT — A Conestoga Hut Micro-Shelter is a hard-shelled, insulated structure with 60 square feet of interior space and a covered porch. A simple, modular structure, it offers a relatively inexpensive, safe and secure shelter option.

The huts are showing up in cities to help combat the homeless crisis; the first in this area are in Waldport on the site of St. Luke by the Sea Episcopal Church.

“I’ve preached about poverty and our responsibility to our neighbor,” said the Rev. Judith Jones, who leads the small congregation she says is “socially engaged and concerned with homelessness and poverty.”

It was a decision that was voted on by the entire congregation, said Jones of the two huts that currently house two women in transition from incarceration back into the community. Three-fourths of the congregation voted in favor of the Conestoga program.

It was a carefully thought out decision with church board members and congressional leaders visiting congregations with Conestoga Huts or tiny homes on their property. St. Luke was awarded a grant from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific to build the second hut.

Working with the Waldport city planning commission, the church was given city approval, a deciding factor that the transitional housing comes with services like therapy, job placement assistance and help with obtaining other available social services.

 “It’s gone really well,” Jones said of the two current residents. “They’re starting to move forward in positive ways.”

More information about the Conestoga Huts can be found at communitysupportedshelters.org.

St. Luke has more detailed information about the program and the mission to learn more about “causes of homelessness, the ways our own choices contribute to the problem, and the systemic changes that we need to work for,” at stlukewaldport.org

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