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UPDATE: Multnomah Neighborhood Association requests condition land use review for Sears Armory site.

PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - One neighbor's view of the location of the proposed Safe Rest Village at the Sears Armoey.Residents near two proposed Safe Rest Village locations sounded off about them during two neighborhood association meetings this week.

The managed homeless camps are proposed to be located along Southwest Naito Parkway and in the parking lot of the Sears Armory near Multnomah Village. The meetings were held by the Downtown Neighborhood Association and the Multnomah Neighborhood Association.

The Multnomah Neighborhood Association voted to request a Type III conditional case land use review for the proposed Safe Rest Village on the Sears Armory site. The association noted the property is zoned EG2 for general employment, not residential use. The City Council has declared a housing emergency and waived some regulations for homeless shelters, however.

Some who live or send their children to a school near the proposed Naito site said they are trying to get more answers from the city. Some neighbors said the recent announcement of the Sears Armory site came as an unpleasant surprise.

Some who spoke are in favor of having the Safe Rest Villages at those locations. Many more spoke against them, however. They include parents who send their children to the West Hills Christian School adjacent to the Sears site.

"Our number one concern is obviously child safety of the hundreds of 5- to 14-year old kids that are going to be at the school," said a West Hills parent.

"Drug use, needles, other garbage, human excrement, vandalism and other crimes. As parents you know, we are very concerned about the city's choice to again, help one vulnerable group, only to endanger another," another parent explained.

One of the main concerns is what will happen outside the boundaries.

"Those tent camps come with an increase in crime, break-ins, theft, drug use, dealing, loitering, fires all that would present a concern for student safety," a West Hills parent said.

Those who spoke in support said the homeless need community support.

"I want to express a voice of support from the program. My family moved here from Idaho to Portland in 1959, and one thing we learned is that Portlanders help each other," said a West Hills parent in favor of the proposed sites.

"I'm another voice of support, for this proposal. We are in a state of emergency around houselessness," another parent said.

The Downtown Neighborhood Association hopes to get more answers and solutions by working with the city.

"The perimeter camping is our biggest issue. We are talking about that," Darlene Urban Garrett of Downtown Neighborhood Association Homeless Study Committee said.

Another Downtown Neighborhood Association Homeless Study Committee member, David Dickson, explained, "If we can develop a collaborative model, it could be a model for the entire city."

Residents and parents from schools near both locations want to know who will get referred to stay at these Safe Rest Villages, or if there will be screening.

There are concerns about criminals or sex offenders potentially living close to schools. Urban Garrett said the Downtown Neighborhood Association is currently working to figure that piece out.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of Pamplin Media Group.


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