Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Economics of Opportunity Village

Analysis by Alex Daniell:

Opportunity Village Eugene, a transitional homeless village housing thirty people, cost less than $80,000 to build. It has eighteen solid walled “Bungalows”, including a kitchen and a Bath House; as well as nine “Conestoga Huts” and a heated thirty-foot yurt. How could this village possibly be built for under $80,000? And most importantly, can this prototype be repeated for a similar cost?

The answer to the first question can be summed up in one word: “Volunteerism”. The answer to the second question is: “Yes, if the same level of volunteerism continues.

Opportunity Village Eugene (OVE), spent $90,761.51 in the twelve month period of 2013 in which the above mentioned construction was completed. Most of this building took place in the last four months. In order to give an accurate baseline certain expenses need to be subtracted out. OVE purchased a total of 19 Conestoga huts for $20,140.49, or $1060.03 per hut. Only nine of these are at Opportunity Village. Ten of them, which cost $10,600.30, are part of the St. Vincent De Paul car camping program. In addition, OVE spent $1800 achieving it’s 501-C3 status. This leaves $78,361.21 in costs to build the Village.

For a total of $78,361.21 30 people were housed, for a cost of $2612.04 per person.


The eighteen Bungalows, which average 72 square feet of floor space and 648 cubic feet of interior space, cost $1282.15 a piece. That translates into $17.81 per square foot and $1.98 per cubic foot of living space.

The nine Conestoga Huts, which average 60 square feet of floor space and 300 cubic feet of interior space, cost $1060.03 a piece. That translates into $ 17.67 per square foot and $3.53 per cubic foot of living space.


All of the donated material and labor added up to $ 74,910, valuing volunteer labor at $10 an hour. So the “normalized “ cost of the Village would be roughly twice the actual cost, or $153,271.21. Most of this donated material and labor went to building the Bungalows and to the plumbing and wiring the Bath House and the kitchen. The Conestoga huts were much closer to fully priced.

Certain ongoing operational costs could be substantially reduced in a second village. The OVE Work Shop, where the Bungalows are pre fabricated in panels before being raised at the village in big work parties, cost $300, and more recently $600 a month. At a second village a temporary shop could be built on site. The Porta-potties cost $500 a month. By also building the Bath House first, this cost could be eliminated. And finally, there is a $599.42 monthly bond payment. This is a three year 5% note to cover the city bond. While this payment represents a return of capital and will leave OVE with $20,000 at the end of three years, it could also be an interest only expense. By taking these measures some $1500 a month in expenses could be eliminated.