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The council is scheduled to decide whether to allow authorized, managed shelters and camps in more parts of town.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The St. Johns Village that was built in a church parking lot in North Portland is an example of a sanctioned homeless shelter.The Portland City Council has promised it would not authorize new managed homeless shelters — including camps — in natural areas, such as Portland parks and golf courses.

Mayor Ted Wheeler and the commissioners made the promise during a public hearing on the Street to Shelter Continuum project Wednesday, March 24. Temporary new managed shelters would have been allowed under the version of the project recommended by the appointed Planning and Sustainability Commission on Jan. 26.

Public opposition to allowing shelters in natural areas surfaced since the commission made the recommendation. Those who testified and wrote letters opposing the concept included former Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

However, the council said homeless people could be allowed to stay in parking lots and community centers at parks. And parks could still be used in an emergency, such as a natural disaster.

Wheeler said new shelters must be sponsored and managed by a nonprofit or community organization. The project is intended to allow them to be sited in all parts of town.

East Portlanders have expressed concern that a disproportionate percent of the new ones would be located in their part of town. A map prepared by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, which is staffing the project, showed more potential sites in East Portland because it has more undeveloped property than other parts of town.

Much of the project will permanently lift zoning restrictions that have been temporarily suspended under the housing state of emergency declared by the council. Despite that, Wheeler said he will ask the council to extend the state of emergency on Wednesday, March 31, when the council is scheduled to vote on the project.

Readers can find a previous Portland Tribune on the issue here.


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