Portland City Council mulls more managed homeless camps
The City Council will consider authorizing managed homeless camps throughout Portland next Wednesday, June 30.
Commissioner Dan Ryan has drafted an ordinance that would allow the establishment of outdoor "Safe Rest Villages" on city-owned property managed by a public or nonprofit agency. They would provide services that include "sanitation, hygiene, case management, security, and most importantly, dignity and stability," the ordinance says.
The ordinance acknowledges that Portland has experienced a significant increase in the number of people living in tents, makeshift structures, vehicles and "other places not meant for human habitation" over the past decade.
"While housing is ultimately the solution to the houselessness crisis, it is important to recognize that the development of transitional and supportive housing takes time, and that additional actions must be taken to meet the more immediate needs of the houseless population," the ordinance says.
Ryan oversees the Portland Housing Bureau and is the council's liaison to the Portland-Multnomah County Joint Office of Homeless Services. He has said that he wants the city to establish six such villages in different parts of town by the end of the year. Ryan has requested $20 million in unspent federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for them.
Although the ordinance does not say where they would be located, city bureaus have been directed to submit lists of properties they own that could be used for them by June 30.
According to the ordinance, the Shelter to Housing Continuum Project previously approved by the council amended the zoning code "to authorize and regulate certain types of Outdoor Shelters to better meet the needs of those experiencing houselessness."
A number of city-approved managed camps already exist. They include one near Union Station in Northwest Portland, two in inner Southeast Portland, Dignity Village in Northeast Portland, the Kenton Women's Village and the St. Johns Village in North Portland and Right 2 Dream Too, located near the Moda Center.
As first reported by the Portland Mercury, the ordinance would also "de-prioritize" sweeping certain homeless campsites based on their location. It directs the Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program that is tasked with clearing homeless encampments on public property to avoid sweeping camps defined as "low-impact" that are at least:
• 150 feet away from an elementary or middle school;
• 100 feet away from a high school;
• 150 feet away from a child care facility or preschool;
• 50 feet away from a park property line;
• 10 feet away from a residential building;
• 10 feet away from the main entrance or emergency exit of a commercial building;
• Outside a wildfire hazard area; and
• Outside an area that's been zoned as environmental overlay, scenic overlay, natural area, or flood hazard area by the city.
The ordinance can be found here.
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