Judge denies temporary injunction to stop homeless project in Ontario

Malheur County Circuit Court Judge Lung Hung Tuesday denied a temporary injunction to halt a project to provide short-term housing for the city homeless population (above) in northeast Ontario. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

VALE – A plan to install temporary tiny homes for the homeless at a site in northeast Ontario will move ahead after a decision by a Malheur County Circuit Court judge Tuesday.

Circuit Judge Lung Hung denied a temporary injunction filed by The Nicolas Accounting Group, an accounting firm that operates adjacent to the area slated for the tiny homes. The firm, at 230 N. Oregon St., and a second company, North Oregon Properties LLC, have sued the city of Ontario, Origins Faith Community Church and Community in Action to stop the project. They requested the judge stop any work on the project until the lawsuit was resolved.

In its lawsuit filed Jan. 16, the firms contended that the shed-like homes would violate the city’s and zoning ordinances and create a sanitation and health issue.

Tuesday’s hour-long hearing on the preliminary injunction covered much of the same ground as the lawsuit and was designed to halt the project while the legal case moved forward.

The tiny home plan is a collaborative effort between the city, Community in Action and Origins Faith and began more than three months ago as a way to provide temporary shelter for the city’s growing homeless population. The 20 tiny homes – considered a pilot project by city officials – would be placed between Northeast Fourth Avenue and Northeast Third Avenue in Ontario.

Community in Action recently contracted with Conley’s Mini Barns to buy the homes using a $150,000 state grant. The homes are 8-by-10 feet and basic. Portable toilets will serve the site, said Barb Higinbotham, Community in Action executive director.

The encampment program would close at the end of April. After that officials plan to review how well the plan worked and whether to seek additional funding.

A court date on the lawsuit has not been set.

This story will be updated.

Prior coverage:

Ontario homeless project firms up – but lawsuit looms

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