Pamplin Media Group – Newberg woman blessed with new tiny home

After eight years of homelessness, Angela Wold has finally moved into her dream house

Almost a decade ago, Angela Wold was living out of her car with her 4-year-old daughter. Newly single and evicted from her ex-mother-in-law’s home, Wold had nowhere to go. All of Portland’s women’s shelters were either closed or had long waiting lists, and she didn’t feel comfortable putting her young daughter in a co-ed facility.

Eight years later, and Wold, 43, owns a new tiny home. The house she helped design stands on the property of North Valley Friends Church, along with two other tiny houses.

Like hers, the two small houses were built by students from Newberg High School and Habitat for Humanity. Unlike her, however, they serve as temporary accommodation.

Former NHS teacher Matt Miller originally approached North Valley Friends pastor Leslie Murray four years ago about building a tiny house somewhere on the church’s 20 acres. Its purpose: to provide another temporary accommodation option for people making the transition from homelessness to permanent housing.

Students on Miller’s integrated design studio course—a course dedicated to solving a problem within the community—and volunteers from Habitat for Humanity completed the first tiny home in 2018 and the second in 2021.

Once these projects were completed, Miller saw an opportunity to meet the needs of longtime church resident Wold. COURTESY OF HABITAT FOR HUMANITY – Volunteers from Newberg High School and Habitat for Humanity brought Wold's input to the home's design.

Wold first came to the church in 2017, living in a dilapidated RV that a former employer bought for her after learning she was living in her car.

While the RV was a step up from their car, it had inadequate heating, insulation, and access to water. She eventually moved into the first tiny home temporarily, but had no plans for permanent housing.

When Murray informed Wold of Miller’s goal of building her a tiny house of her own, she was thrilled.

“I never thought I’d live in a house (all my own),” Wold said. “I’ve never done that, especially not in a tiny home. I thought I would sit in this RV for a long time. I was just happy with it.”

During the key ceremony, which took place in mid-March, Wold said she was overcome with emotion.

“I felt so loved, I felt so wanted,” Wold said. “I was so used to being pushed out of my surroundings that I’m still trying to get used to feeling wanted and loved by complete strangers.”

To top it off, Miller and his students have gone to great lengths to customize Wold’s home to suit their needs and preferences. Wold emailed Miller numerous ideas from Pinterest and provided feedback on the students’ individual tiny home models.

They eventually pared the design down to Wold’s main priorities, including lots of windows to let in the natural light, an extra bed for Wold’s daughter, a covered porch to keep her from getting wet, and a ramp to her bed for her older dog, lady who is arthritic.

“You put a lot of heart and effort into welcoming Lady into my little, tiny home,” Wold said.

Wold adopted Lady a few weeks after receiving the RV and after a sudden plunge into depression.

“I didn’t want to be here six years ago,” Wold said. “I definitely didn’t want to be on this earth, and then I got her, and she definitely makes a difference.”

When Wold’s boss bought the RV, “it’s almost like I could kind of stop being strong for my daughter, and I kind of broke down and got really, really depressed,” she said, adding, “She was kind of up.” her last straw.”

So she scoured Craigslist looking for a service dog and got Lady days later.

“She’s welcome here,” Wold said. “(Murray) loves Lady. Everyone knows who Lady is, so she’s definitely a part of me.”

Due to the closure of schools due to the pandemic, construction was delayed by around 18 months. But Wold was patient.

Miller portrayed Wold as “super grateful and just so sweet about everything we could do for her” and said “it was special for us to be able to build her a new home.”

“I mean, she was the first person to live in the first tiny house we built and she lived in it for a couple of years, so being able to build her something custom made that really fits her needs was really special .” Miller said, describing it as an opportunity most homeless people never get.

And there are many homeless people in Newberg.

“I get people coming into the church all the time who either want to stay on site in their car or pitch a tent or sleep in the alcove,” Murray said. “I think in Newberg the problem is a bit hidden because we have a lot of couchsurfers and other not-so-visible people. But they are here in Newberg. We often let them come to our door. ”

Murray pointed out that Newberg property prices are skyrocketing to the point where “even if you have some money, it’s really hard to get in”.

She identified protection as one of the basic human needs.

“Unless you have permanent or permanent housing, it’s quite difficult to direct other parts of your life…” Murray said. “If you think about it, it affects everything. Where will you go to the toilet? How are you going to prepare food…?”

The availability of housing has certainly changed Wold’s life.

“I don’t have to worry about not having a roof over my head and it changed me inside,” Wold said. “It made me have more faith in humanity and to know that people care.”

She added that for a long time she didn’t like people except babies and the elderly.

“But now I can say I like people because[people who help me find housing]have restored my faith,” Wold said, adding, “There’s definitely more good (in the world) than bad , you just have to search it. It is everywhere. I don’t think people are looking closely enough. You only see the bad things.

With her needs met, Wold is finally in a place where she can turn her focus outward.

“[My experience]drives me to give back 100x to the community — I just want to help others,” she said. “It makes me want to help more – the community more.”

For example, Wold has been a volunteer at the local homeless shelter for a year and also devotes her time to other things, such as escorting elderly people to doctor’s appointments and helping out with Meals on Wheels.

“It feels good to give back because I feel the love here…” she said. “I think that’s what people need is some encouragement – more love and more encouragement to want to be a better person, to improve their lives.

“Instead of condemning homeless people … they need encouragement and encouragement.”

The kindness people have shown her over the past few years has shaped Wold to be a better mother and a more compassionate, understanding person.

“Society really shapes you sometimes,” she said. “You hear something so often, you’ll believe it.”

She encouraged people to practice grace “because no one is perfect and everyone is human. They (people) deserve to have second chances.”

What’s next for Wold?

She is currently working at the church, taking care of the grounds and keeping the church clean for services and various events.

Finally, Wold said she sees people as her primary goal, though she’s not sure of the specifics just yet.

“Humanity is my calling, I suppose,” she said.

For example, as the Peace Trail Village Housing Transition Project builds another nine small houses on church lots, Wold said she might see mentoring her new neighbors, offering experienced advice and a listening ear to anyone who needs it.

Your destination could be just around the corner.

The church and its partner Providence have just received $400,000 in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act for the proposed Tiny Home Village. The ARPA Funds pay a case manager’s salary for two years and a project manager’s salary. It will also cover infrastructure costs such as engineering, design, excavation, water, sewerage and electrics.

“The community knew I was hurt and I was hurt,” Wold said. “They totally get it … and they’ve been very patient with me and kind, and that in turn makes me want to do the same.” I’m (now) able to do that with others.”

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