MONROE — Roger Evans spent most of his adult life homeless and struggling with drug addiction. As he approached his 50th birthday, he was determined to make it his last living on the streets.
Sober for over two years, Evans wants to give others who were living his old life a chance to make a change.
Partnering with Pastor Rob Jansons of New Hope Fellowship in Monroe, he is embarking on an ambitious plan to bring a tiny home village to the church campus for people experiencing homelessness and who have completed a treatment program.
“I want to temporarily put shelters up on church grounds, help people get a job, or go back to school and get on with their life,” Evans said. “Let’s help people get to the next level.”
Evans first started attending New Hope last Easter. He approached his pastor with the idea after listening to a sermon where Jansons recited the Bible verse — “let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” to the roughly 100-member congregation.
“Just about everyone who lives here sees the homeless. We want to be compassionate without hurting them,” Jansons said. “Roger came along and said, ‘Here’s something we can do.’”
They want to model the community off of Snohomish County’s first sanctioned tiny home village for people experiencing homelessness that opened in October in Lynnwood. It has fencing for privacy and a strict intake process.
Evans and Jansons plan on using the same type of shelters made by the Seattle-based company Pallet. The units, manufactured in Everett, were originally designed for disaster relief and can be set up and torn down quickly.
Last week a demo unit was assembled in a parking lot behind the church. Evans and his pet hamster, named Hamster, stayed in the shelter.
“We wanted it there for people to look at,” Jansons said.
He has presented the idea to the church’s board, whose members have asked for more details.
Evans has grand plans for the community; adding showers, and buying a van to transport residents to appointments and other errands. He plans to live on site to manage the village.
But first Evans and Jansons need $50,000 to purchase the initial units and prepare a site for the village.
Raising the money is the least of Jansons’ worries.
The church has a tradition of helping people living in poverty in other countries.
If a little bit of the money stayed here it would make a difference, Jansons said.
The biggest barrier, he said, is convincing the congregation and the city to support this type of tiny home community.
For this village to move forward could require the city council approving amendments to city code, depending on the final plan.
The city is working on updating its code for affordable housing this year, according to Ben Swanson, Monroe’s community development director. This could include policies regarding tiny homes, and waiving fees and allowing the use of a multifamily tax exemption for providing low-income housing.
“If a guy like Roger shows up, you should use him as a resource. He’s not here by chance,” Jansons said. “He puts a face on homelessness.”