Providing Hope at the NW Natural Street of Dreams

While visitors to the NW Natural Street of Dreams will see multimillion- dollar homes, they can also explore an example of alternative housing for people who dream of a cozy bed, with some privacy. Home Builders Foundation’s “Mod” is a three-room transitional shelter for nonprofit organizations helping the houseless in our community. Funded by a Home Builders Foundation grant and built by MODS PDX, the unit gives each resident a warm, comfortable place to stay, with electricity and heating, and a locking door. HBF will donate the structure to our shelter partner Do Good Multnomah at the end of the show.

The three units each have their individual flair, thanks to the generosity of our design team volunteers, Brittainy Tiffany (Tiffany Home Design) and Kevin Twitty (Kevin Twitty Interiors). They both contributed their time and materials to making these pods a home, and will donate the furnishings after the show.

We caught up with Twitty just hours before the opening night Block Party. “I wanted a dignified space, not the institutional vibe of a lot of the transitional housing that is out there. We asked, ‘where did his inspiration come from for the color palette?’ He explains, he went to a big box store, “I looked at where they had the ‘oops’ paint, and bought gallons of paint. And we did each room a bit different.”

The three units are a master class on how to achieve style on a budget. There is a green room with clever stencils on the wall, a calm blue room, and a lively black and white room, featuring hand painted faux wall paper. As Twitty explains, “To me, it’s very important to make sure these places feel like home.”

Guests to the Street’s July 28 preview “Block Party” were enthusiastic about the 24′ by 14′ square foot structure, calling it a sensible solution for Portland’s houseless population. Shelter organizations are using “pod” structures to mimic the once prevalent single room occupancy hotels, which had provided low income people with shelter. Typically, the new sleeping pods are adjacent to a central facility with a kitchen, meeting space, bathrooms, showers and laundry. This concept helps encourage the residents to socialize, and to undergo a healthy progression towards the ultimate goal of finding permanent housing.

MODS PDX owner Nathan Young and Kegan Flanderka from Base Design+ Architecture pivoted from a previous design of single pod units to a 3 to 6 six pod unit. “We needed to come up with some ways to get people off the street efficiently and at a lower cost than we’ve typically seen in some other projects we’ve worked on in the past.” The modular unit on display could be built as sleeping rooms, or could be built to include bathrooms, office space, or a kitchen, depending on what an organization may need and the size of the lot available.

Thanks to the participation of HBF’s fabulous building partner PARR Lumber, the entire framing package was donated. Using the unique process used by MODS PDX, the cost to build the innovative “MOD” unit featured at the NW Natural Street of Dreams is estimated at $36,000 with the help of generous trade partners.