EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- A Eugene company's building experiment may translate to some major help for the local homeless population in Lane County and beyond.
The Tine Hive Experiment is behind the project called the Conestoga Hut. The hut is a 10-foot-long, 6-foot-wide and 6-foot-tall structure that designers hope could be the future of helping temporarily house the homeless in Eugene.
The company has designed a pilot version of the hut that it plans to put on display this week.
Each unit is made of 2x4 boards and plywood for the flooring. Making up the roof is a metal half-circle or a “cattle grate.” Over that is a piece of plastic tarp on the outside. Inside is a piece of mylar, designed to hold the heat in.
Each unit also has its own doors with a lock and a window on hinges.
Erik de Buhr helped come up with this idea with others in the Tine Hive Experiment. De Buhr says much of the planning for the pilot hut came during the Occupy Eugene movement in December 2011.
Crews made the first hut in response to a single mother with a child needing a place to stay that was warmer and drier than a tent. De Buhr and his friends came up with the first hut, raising it about a foot-and-a-half above the ground, then making a waterproof, insulated roof.
de Buhr estimates that each hut costs about $350 to $500. They're aiming to bring much of that cost down through donations of materials though. The huts could be put up in a few hours with a volunteer crew, according to project leaders.
De Buhr says the potential is huge for this project.
"For anybody that's slept outside in the cold, the amount of effort it takes you to actually get going the next day and do something is a lot harder than if you have a warm place to be. So it can benefit people in that way, but think a lot of it is the psychology of having a place that you can call your own and that it's secure,” says Erik de Buhr, co-creator of the Conestoga Hut.
De Buhr and others are hoping that the huts could be what house people at the city's proposed homeless camp called"Opportunity Village Eugene.
A Conestoga Hut will be on display Monday, December 10, at the East Park Block in downtown Eugene, across from the Lane County Public Service Building. Crews will have the hut set up from 4 to 9 PM.
The Eugene City Council could also vote on the site of the proposed camp at a council meeting that night.
Organizers are hoping to put the huts together in a kit-like package from donations for the materials to build them. If you're interested in helping, contact Opportunity Village Eugene at: http://www.opportunityvillageeugene.org/.