Shields House Opens Doors for Clients and CSS

An amazing confluence of vision and hard work and something that seems like destiny has given four Safe Spot graduates a home of their own in a bright yellow house in West Eugene. A pilot project in CSS’s effort to provide a new level of shelter, the Shields House offers Donna, Chris, Wes, and Mark the next step in their transition out of homelessness.

“This has been a rock star team in that camp for a long time,” says Erik de Buhr, CSS executive director, “so to be able to provide that next step up when there was not another option for them, it feels like we’re really taking care of our people.”

The Shields House tenants pay rent to cover the mortgage and establish a rental history, the absence of which is a formidable road block for people trying to break into the rental housing market. 

All were residents of the Roosevelt Safe Spot, all part of the volunteer management team, and all have taken full advantage of the helping hand that CSS has extended to them. 

Donna helps paint Chris’s new room in the Shields House.

They look forward to rooms of their own, heat, indoor plumbing, and a full kitchen.

“It’s just going to be so nice,” Donna said, shortly before moving in. “I feel like I’ve died and went to heaven.” She will continue to volunteer at the CSS office. Chris has become a CSS employee, as facilitator of the Mission and Skinner City Farm Microsites.

The Shields House is right around the corner from the CSS Grant Street office. Erik had been eying it for years as he fantasized about CSS providing housing for people who were ready to move on from the Safe Spots. Then, a couple of years ago, he attended a funeral for Ray Shields, a friend who had lived at the Roosevelt Safe Spot for a while and had brought solar lights and battery chargers to the camp using his genius-level tinkering–and he learned that Ray had built that house for his family when he was a young man. When the house came up for sale earlier this year, Erik was determined to buy it to launch CSS’s cohousing program.

“Ray was always proud that his family is fourth-generation Oregonian,” Erik says, “and that they came out with the Skinner family. Ray definitely had a pioneering spirit. And I feel that’s the spirit behind pioneering this new dimension for CSS to further our purpose in helping people find homes.”

Wes speaks to his experience with CSS and finding a supportive community.

CSS thanks the donors who made it possible to purchase the Shields House and to The Mission for providing the furniture. We will provide more coverage about this house and the cohousing program in a future newsletter issue.