PORTLAND, Ore. -- It was a rare success story in Portland’s ongoing effort to house its homeless.
On Friday, a group of teenage boys and students at Oregon Episcopal School arrived at ‘Dignity Village’ in Northeast Portland with a large truck in tow.
On the truck sat a tiny home, built by the boys for a total stranger.
“When I saw the guy and him getting the house, it made me feel really great,” said 16-year-old Jack Morissette.
“The guy” is 56-year-old Ray Broaddus. He’s lived in Dignity Village, a northeast Portland homeless camp, for three years.
He’s spent that time in makeshift huts, one infested with rats, hoping he’d eventually be given one of the camp’s coveted tiny homes.
Two weeks ago, Broaddus got his wish.
“I thought maybe somebody was playing a game on me,” he said.
Broaddus thought that, in part, because he’d been promised a tiny house before. But when the home was delivered last year, there was a devastating design flaw. It had a loft, and Broaddus, who suffered a stroke years ago, cannot climb stairs.
On Friday, he got a second chance.
“I’m going to take lots of pictures,” he said as the new house pulled up.
The 10-foot by 12-foot home is the brainchild of Henry Morissette. The 17-year-old is going into his senior year at Oregon Episcopal, a school that requires students put in hours of volunteer time to graduate.
Morissette said, immediately, his thoughts turned to housing the homeless
“It just seems not right that we walk down the street, and we see all these people who don't have a house,” he said. “I'm just really glad. I never thought I could help as much as I did. It's really nice.”
It’s even nicer, he said, because Henry is the second member of his family to do this. Across the alley from his home sits a similar one, built last year by his older brother.
“I'm super happy they decided to run with it and keep it going,” said 20-year-old Ted Morissette. “At the end of my project, we sort of had talked about doing another one, and I didn’t know if it was going to happen or not.”
But it did happen. And Broaddus, who peeked inside his new home for the first time, keys in hand, couldn’t be more grateful.
“The kids are awesome,” he said. “It feels good. It feels really good.”