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The program, which began with Safe Sleep Village as a COVID-19 prevention measure, has expanded to include RV camping.

PMG FILE PHOTO: - Tents set up at Westside Commons as part of Safe Sleep Village, a homeless camping program started in August, which recently expanded to allow people to camp in their RVs and access resources as a COVID-19 prevention measure.As part of an effort to limit the potential spread of COVID-19 within Washington County's homeless population, county officials recently opened a temporary, managed RV camping area in Hillsboro for people whose only means of shelter is a recreational vehicle.

The program is an expansion of the county's Safe Sleep Village, a camping facility for homeless people at Westside Commons — formerly known as the Washington County Fair Complex — which opened in August for the same purpose.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has created an increased risk for Washington County's houseless population who often have pre-existing health conditions and may lack access to resources needed to prevent the spread of the disease," the county said in a statement announcing the program Oct. 9.

The county worked closely with the city government in identifying the site located near the MAX Blue Line on County-owned property south of Veterans Drive and east of Northeast 25th Avenue in Hillsboro.

Josh Crites, assistant director of the county's department of housing services, which is coordinating the program, said the program was initiated after a growing number of RVs began parking at the program's current location.

"Without a safe and stable location to live or to access appropriate services, our houseless neighbors are even more at risk of contracting the coronavirus," Crites said.

Currently, there are 34 individuals at the site with about 26 RVs or vehicles, he said.

County staff will provide on-site management 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including security at the entrance gate and throughout the site at all times.

The program will accommodate up to 35 vehicles, spaced to maintain appropriate physical distancing between campers.

All guests must participate in a check-in process that includes an initial health assessment and a review of all program responsibilities and requirements. They must agree to practice social distancing, wear face coverings within six feet of others, observe sanitary practices, and refrain from unsafe behaviors and illegal activities, the county said.

Participants will receive referrals to appropriate supportive services and permanent housing options and be provided with face coverings, hand-washing stations and portable restroom units, the county said.

The program will be in place until Dec. 1. It was funded through the county's disbursement of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.


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