Nov. 1, 2021
Concordia Neighborhood Association:
Thanks for reaching out to better understand where our Safe Rest Villages team is in our process, to get clear and accurate information. Please feel free to share this information with your neighborhood.
While the media coverage last week made it sound like the former Whitaker Middle School Portland Public School (PPS) property was a firm decision, that is not accurate. Our team has been looking at both public and private properties around the entire city for months. Collectively our team has analyzed over 100 locations to identify areas where outdoor shelters will be feasible and have high likelihood of success in providing a safe, stable, and managed space for individuals experiencing houselessness.
We are currently in our due diligence phase for many sites, which we need to complete before we discuss more publicly – as things often do not work out during this phase, for any number of reasons. Part of our due diligence to determine if a site is viable understandably involves talking to the property owners, discussing our timeline (3 year use) and intentions (for a managed, outdoor shelter with 24/7 onsite management and services for those experiencing homelessness). It also includes a detailed review with the various city permitting agencies, and any other site specific conversations that may be needed.
Until we get to a basic agreement about with property owners and have permitting agency preliminary review, we have not announced any sites – as we are not sure they will work. As we have learned, sites can look good in many ways, until they don’t. We are putting past lessons to good use, ensuring we have a level of certainty that a location is actually going to work before we announce them.
In this instance, the media shared this potential location, before we have had a chance to complete our conversation with the PPS Board and leadership. We are not the only people talking to PPS leadership about potential use of this location for another purpose.
Commissioner Ryan, who is leading our Safe Rest Villages team, is very clear that the most important audience for any location is the surrounding neighborhood. My colleague and I are the community engagement team for this effort – and we are ready to follow through on more thorough discussions with you, your neighborhood association, nearby stakeholders, and the neighborhood in general, when we get clearer on any sites we intend to announce.
Having said that, we welcome you and your neighbors to learn more about what Safe Rest Villages will and won’t be. There are many misperceptions out there. They will be managed outdoor shelters, with a range of behavioral and health services, hygiene and community-building amenities, with 24/7 onsite management – NOT camps.
Feel free to read more about our program at Portland.gov/ryan/safe-rest-villages website.
Community Engagement Coordinator | Streets to Stability: http://portland.gov/ryan/safe-rest-villages
Office of Commissioner Dan Ryan