Portland announces city-sanctioned ‘safe rest villages’ sites for the homeless

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Three Portland neighborhoods – downtown, Brentwood-Darlington and Hazelwood – will soon be home to the city’s first “safe rest villages”.

Commissioner Dan Ryan, who is leading efforts to build six city-sanctioned outdoor homeless villages by the end of the year, announced the first three locations at a press conference Thursday. He said the sites are a critical response to the “humanitarian crisis” unfolding on the streets of Portland.

While there has been no official count of Portland’s homeless population since 2019, settlements appear to have proliferated during the pandemic. The Portlanders reported more than 60,000 campsites to the city in the last fiscal year, up from about 40,000 the year before.

Those first three villages, Ryan said, were the human answer.

These villages will be outdoor refuges where homeless people can camp safely and receive basic services. They will provide showers, beds, bathrooms and support services including case management and mental health support.

“Just open your eyes,” Ryan told reporters Thursday. “We can’t wait for affordable housing to be ready for every homeless person. “

The villages will be located at:

  • Southeast 122nd and Burnside, on part of the Menlo Park Park & ​​Ride transit lot from TriMet;
  • Land in the 2300 block of Southwest Naito Parkway owned by the city and the Oregon Department of Transportation;
  • City-owned land at 8330 SE 45th Avenue near the Springwater Corridor Trail.

Ryan, who oversees the town side of the Joint Office of Homeless Services, stressed that the sites will not be “tent camps” and that each village will be fenced in with each individual having their own “sleeping cabin.” Together, the city expects the three sites to accommodate around 120 people. The TriMet property would house about 60 pods, the downtown property would house about 40, and the site near the Springwater corridor would house about 20.

According to the city’s website, the downtown site will house an already existing outdoor shelter called Queer Affinity Village, which the city and county opened for the LGBTQ community during the pandemic. The Portland Tribune reported that the city agreed to cede the land to a developer before the pandemic and would need to relocate the shelter.

Ryan first announced his village plan this summer, which he said could be funded by around $ 16 million of the federal money the city received as part of the US bailout. But efforts to make the villages work have been slow. Ryan’s office first released a list of properties in the city in July where shelters could potentially be located. The original plan was to reduce the list to six and have the shelters built by the end of December.

But Ryan’s office said much of the property was ultimately not suited to the villages they envisioned. Instead, they looked to other jurisdictions to provide the land. The downtown shelter will be located on land owned by both ODOT and the city transport office. The Southeast 122nd and Burnside site is owned by TriMet.

Sam Desue, TriMet’s new chief executive, said he expects the city to use the park over the next two to three years. Ryan said his office still aims to have the shelters up and running by the end of the year and plans to announce the other three locations soon. Its staff said each site needs more amenities before people can take shelter there. The city must connect each site to water and sewer pipes and sign contracts with service providers.

“I like to set big goals for myself,” Ryan said. “If we don’t encounter this, we just keep getting up and chasing it.” “

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