A few years ago, the team at St. Vincent De Paul’s of Bend looked around at the growing number of unhoused community members in Bend and knew something more had to be done.

“I moved here in ‘98,” said Gary Hewitt, executive director of St. Vincent De Paul of Bend. “In ’98 you did not see anybody standing on the street corner with a sign. I’m not saying there weren’t homeless people in the community, but there was nothing like the problem we have today.”

His team began to get creative. What if St. Vincent’s could build a small community of tiny homes that would be the conduit between homelessness and permanent housing? Could they build a place that would provide the social supports needed to move people out of homelessness for the long-haul? Could it be a place where staff could live on-site providing the structure and resources needed to make a change to last a lifetime? And if the answers to these questions were yes, how in the heck could they fund it?

Enter First Story and Hayden Homes.

Upon learning of this new vision, not only did First Story provide a $20,000 grant to get the project off the ground, but Hayden Homes agreed to build all the small units that will soon become the gateway out of living on the streets for 10 people at a time at St. Vincent’s Place. Hayden Homes has also managed subcontractors on the project, coordinating that work at a discount for St. Vincent’s.

“First Story and Hayden have been incredible,” said Hewitt. “They have restored my faith. Most people don’t know about what Hayden does because he isn’t doing these things for the accolades. They are just amazing and I am really hopeful for the future.”

Now St. Vincent’s Place is almost complete and Hewitt recently hosted an open house to show off how the vision has come to life. Final construction is expected to be completed by end of July with the first group of residents anticipated in August 2022—ready to take their first steps out of homelessness and into a new chapter of their own story.