Firefighters volunteer to build shelter at Opportunity Village

      EUGENE, Ore. - Firefighters spent their Monday battling something other than fires: homelessness.

      Not to be confused with Whoville, Opportunity Village is sanctioned by the city and offers area homeless residents transitional housing while they are trying to get back on their feet.

      "We have a population out here that obviously doesn't have shelter and that also tends to be hypothermic too, so we're always trying to get them help and point to the right resources, too," said Mike Barnebey with the group Lane Professional Firefighters.

      "We're taking in residents before we can build the structures, so we are trying to keep up with the demand for structures the best way we can," said Alex Daniel, who designed the bungalows.

      The City of Eugene has granted the experimental community the right to build 30 bungalows at its current site. After Monday, they are closer to capacity.

      Fire crews had only intended to build one bungalow, but when they were buying supplies, they realized they had enough money to build a second one as well.

      Daniel said receiving a bungalow to live in is a source of pride for anyone who previously lived on the street.

      "I think that's what most people need is just a little bit of time," Daniel said, "and then of course is the next step, which is moving forward with the transition out of the village."

      After a final inspection by the city, residents currently living in tents at the village will be given a bungalow, a goal the firefighters said meets their mission for the area.

      "We see the need in the community. We work a lot with the indigent population and the folks that are underinsured, and we come to this area all the time for medical calls and things," Barnebey said. "Some of our firefighters wondered how we could help and give back to the community and that's what has brought us out to build these bungalows."