Tiny houses can be a valuable tool in a community's response to homelessness, and the city of Ashland should consider it along with other approaches. But a proposal for a tiny house project on Villard Street off Clay should not displace a project under discussion for three years to build low-income housing under the auspices of the Housing Authority of Jackson County.
In 2015, the city offered to sell the Housing Authority two tax lots to build low-income apartments. Residents objected to the removal of a cottonwood tree to make room for the project, and the city denied a tree-cutting permit.
The city then offered to sell a smaller parcel of land and was working on a partition to spare the tree while allowing the housing project to proceed.
Now a nonprofit organization called Tiny House Group, armed with some cash from local benefactor Lloyd Haines, wants the city to sell it some of the land, lease it the rest and award it city grants to pay for construction.
It's possible Tiny House Group could quickly fill an unmet need for transitional housing — assuming it can get the grants it needs and the city agrees to a lease. But the Housing Authority was first in line, and has the resources to buy the land without asking for grants and a track record of successful projects.
To abandon a project the city has worked on for years would hardly build confidence for future ventures. Tiny House Group should seek another site.