In 1973, a group of concerned citizens in the Eugene, Oregon area came together with a common goal: Improve access to housing for low-income citizens in their area. This group of individuals secured property, HUD (Housing & Urban Development) authorizations, and a mortgage that made the construction of Rainbow Village a reality.
Four decades later, the residents of Rainbow Village gathered to celebrate its inspirational history. The birthday bash brought together Rainbow residents, community leaders, past and present board members, and management staff to tell the story of their community in their own words:
“The Rainbow Village Housing Project is a unique and exceptional product of Christian concern and outreach by the Presbyterian Churches in the greater Eugene area. It sits on approximately 5 acres and consists of 80 apartments ranging from 1 to 4 bedrooms. It provides safe, comfortable housing for low income people. For the past 40 years it has been a working example of how to reduce the homeless ranks. Its purpose is not to just warehouse low income persons, but to go further, and try to move them out of poverty and up the economic ladder.
Rainbow Village began as an idea in the minds of a group of Lane County Presbyterians in the late 1960’s who wanted to do something about housing for low income people. Led by Hugh Peniston of Cottage Grove, the group formed a nonprofit corporation named Presbyterian Action for Development, or PAD.
Groundbreaking occurred on March 4, 1973 and actual construction the next week. Construction was part of a demonstration project as part of HUD Operation Breakthrough. This was a program designed to encourage new and cheaper construction methods. The first manager, Bob Wood, was hired in the summer of 1973. Construction was complete enough for the first tenant to move in in November 1973 and by December 10 the project was fully occupied.”
Rainbow Village experienced a number of problems through the years. Because of the construction methods used to build these homes, large scale maintenance was needed within the first 10 years of its existence. Other issues with management duties led the board of directors to put out a management contract for bid. On December 19, 1984, an agreement was made that Guardian Management, LLC would directly manage the property, an agreement that remains in force almost 30 years later.
In the past 20 years, significant improvements have been made to Rainbow Village. A playground was build in 1990 and upgraded in 2008, along with replacements of roofing, windows, siding, paint, and the installation of security cameras. Today, almost all homes at Rainbow Village have been completely refurbished.
About 200 residents live in the 80 homes today. They can sum up best what Rainbow Village has become:
“We are proud of the residents and the effort they make to care for Rainbow Village and make it a good safe home for their families. We are also proud of the resident managers, who are the key people in making the project run smoothly and efficiently. We look forward to the next 40 years of providing low cost housing to people in need.”
Thank you to all who make Rainbow Village a great success! Happy 40th Birthday!