Three months after opening to give the homeless in Coos Bay a place to call home, Coalbank Village opened to the public briefly Thursday.

The Nancy Devereaux Center, which runs Coalbank Village, hosted an open house to allow the community to get a firsthand look at the cluster of tiny pallet homes that house up to 19 homeless individuals temporarily.

Dozens of community members lined up to visit Coalbank Village, much to the delight of Tara Johnson, the executive director of the Devereaux Center.

Johnson said the open house was a big moment for Coalbank Village, which has some ups and downs over the last three months. Days before it opened, the first setback occurred when someone cut and stole the electrical board at the location.

But even with that problem, Coalbank Village opened on time and has been serving the homeless since.

Johnson said Thursday there have been some successes, including a resident who moved out Thursday after finding a place to live. Several residents have left after securing jobs and housing on their own.

There have also been some who left because they didn't want to follow the rules at the village, rules such as no alcohol or drug use and a curfew.

But overall, Johnson said it has been a big success. Several residents currently have jobs and are working toward getting homes. And when they do, a waiting list of people is in place to replace them. In fact, the room that opened Thursday will be filled by the end of the week, Johnson said.

One resident at Coalbank Village sat outside her room talking to those visiting. She said the facility is a godsend for she and her dog.

North Bend Mayor Jessica Engelke attended the open house, saying she supports the work being done by the Devereaux Center.

Coalbank Village came about as a result of a partnership between the Devereaux Center and the city of Coos Bay. The city provided the land and did a lot of site work before construction began. Originally planned as a tent village, the Devereaux changed plans to the pallet homes thanks to a grant from Oregon Coast Community Action, which paid for the homes and the first year of operations.

Johnson said Thursday she has secured funding for more than half the second year already.


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