Helping to create a region’s first resident-owned community after devastating fires 

Providence leaders stand in front of homes that will be part of Coalición Fortaleza. From left, Jason Kuhl, chief medical officer at Providence Medford Medical Center, Sonya Kauffman Smith, program manager, and Joseph Ichter, senior director of community health investment.

In the summer of 2020, the Almeda fires of southern Oregon destroyed many communities, including the Talent Mobile Estates park. 

The park was home to approximately 100 mostly Latinx families, but only 10 homes survived the fire. 

Over 90% of families surveyed there had owned mobile homes, however they did not have insurance to cover what was lost in the fire. 

Coalición Fortaleza, which means strong coalition, was created in response to the Almeda fires to support the Talent Mobile Estates community in designing and building a viable, equitable and affordable resident-owned community. Coalición Fortaleza has partnered with Casa of Oregon to create a space for community engagement where families feel included and empowered and have a say over how their community will be rebuilt. 

One of the mottos the coalition embraces is, "No solutions about us without us.” Coalición Fortaleza has hosted several gatherings inviting community members to take part in the visioning process. Residents were also involved in creating the community bylaws and selecting a board of directors. 

To create agency among residents, Coalición Fortaleza prioritized education opportunities for community members on topics such as personal finances, tenant rights, workers’ rights, business development and how to take care of mobile homes during extreme weather. 

Providence’s $75,000 community benefit investment allowed Coalición Fortaleza to build capacity to support the community through this rebuilding journey. Approximately 140 community members have actively engaged in building southern Oregon’s first resident-owned community. 

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