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Houselessness

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Commissioner Ryan talking about site development at Old Town

Commissioner Ryan works to build and maintain bridges with his colleagues on Portland City Council, Multnomah County, state & federal delegations, and partners across all sectors to implement a regional approach toward houselessness that will get Portlanders the services they deserve. "Housing first" or "shelter first" is a false binary: Commissioner Ryan believes we need to build permanent supportive housing, invest in shelters, provide wraparound mental and behavioral health services, innovate with alternative outdoor models, and keep the right-of-way safe for everyone in our City.

We can do it all, together. 


A vision becoming reality

In 2022, Commissioner Ryan’s Safe Rest Village (SRV) initiative opened four alternative shelter sites, completed construction on a fifth shelter, and laid the groundwork for three additional sites to open by the end of 2023—creating eight villages in total, two more than originally promised. 

In addition, the program has generated support from more than 20 non-profit and community groups, invested federal grant dollars in numerous local companies, and most importantly is helping people in need of help transitioning from chronic homelessness into housing. (Explore the SRV program webpage to find information and details about each village under the program.) 

2022 Program Highlights: 

  • Identified locations for and secured leases and rights to use 7 sites for Safe Rest Villages. 
    • Property partners include Port of Portland, TriMet, Prosper Portland, and Oregon Department of Transportation, in addition to several City of Portland bureaus, and one private landowner.
  • In May 20202, decommissioned the original Queer Affinity Village on SE Water and created a new low-barrier shelter offering LQBTQIA+ villagers private sleeping quarters, laundry, flushing bathrooms, a shared kitchenette, and optional services.
  • Built and opened Multnomah Safe Rest Village and Menlo Park Safe Rest Village.
    A photo of Commissioner Ryan carrying furniture at the Arbor Lodge Cooling Shelter during the extreme heat event in the summer of 2021
    Commissioner Ryan volunteering at 2021's emergency cooling shelters
  • Completed construction of the Sunderland RV Safe Park.
  • Initiated process for three additional Safe Rest Villages, currently in the design stage, permitting or pre-construction. 
  • Decommissioned Old Town Village. 
  • Received donations and support from more than 20 non-profits and community organizations.
  • Supported 59 people in exiting one of the four shelters and moving into temporary or permanent housing.

Safe Rest Villages 

(2021 Program Highlights)

Welcome sign at Multnomah SRV
A warm welcome to Multnomah Safe Rest Village

Commissioner Ryan secured a unanimous City Council vote and $16.02M American Rescue Plan Act funding to build six Safe Rest Villages—outdoor shelters with access to privacy, hygiene services, and case management—for Portlanders experiencing houselessness.

Background

Prior to Commissioner Ryan's election, the Safe Rest Villages (SRV) concept was just a dream of a more effective way to support Portlanders experiencing houselessness—a new option in the range of services available, one that could meet people where they are. That dream is quickly becoming a reality. The Safe Rest Village approach is innovative for Portland—a City-led, federally-funded, compassionately-modeled outdoor shelter paired with wraparound mental and behavioral health services that will give vulnerable Portlanders an on-ramp to permanent housing.

Queer Affinity Village
 A site tour of the new Queer Affinity Village location

The path to Safe Rest Villages hasn't been easy. 

In April of 2021, Portland City Council unanimously passed the Shelter to Housing Continuum—this changed the zoning code to expand options to address the needs of our city’s homeless population and are now recognized as legitimate under the land-use code.

In June of 2021, Portland City Council unanimously passed the Streets to Stability ordinance, which set the stage for Safe Rest Villages and allocated federal funds from the American Rescue Plan for Village development. 

These regulatory changes and funding streams were vital to build a team of dedicated Portlanders with lived experience to realize Commissioner Ryan's Safe Rest Village vision. By Labor Day, our Safe Rest Villages team was up and running.

The Safe Rest Villages Team 

The Safe Rest Villages team is responsible for the selection, development, and physical site improvements (structures, utility installation, permitting, etc.) for each new Village. The team is also managing the three emergency outdoor shelters set up as a pandemic response. Those three sites—collectively referred to as the C3PO (Creating Conscious Communities for People Outside) sites—are shifting from their original emergency shelter model to a transitional shelter model. They remain outdoor shelters, but their program model is evolving. The Safe Rest Village team has relocated one of the C3PO sites and will be moving another soon. 

Safe Rest Village Team Image

As we enter the new year, we have a team in place for community engagement, communications, grant compliance, and site construction/management.  

Five sites have been announced. Construction fencing is up around two of them and brush is being cleared as we prepare the sites for development as Villages. The Safe Rest Villages team has reviewed hundreds of locations, including public and private properties suggested by community members, public agency partners, and private owners. We evaluate these sites for viability and continue conversations with property owners of sites that prove viable. The Safe Rest Villages team is on track to announce an additional four sites—we have a plan for six Safe Rest Villages, and we need to relocate the Queer Affinity C3PO village.

The Safe Rest Villages Community Engagement team has been working with neighborhoods and nearby stakeholders at all three announced Village sites. Alongside Commissioner Ryan, we have engaged with many community groups about the SRV program.  For the detailed list, check out the community engagement page on our SRV website. 

The Safe Rest Villages team is also negotiating contracts and contractors for the provision of materials (living pods, village amenities, etc.) and services (construction, graphics, utilities, etc.) to realize Safe Rest Villages. Given federal funds, there are complex and detailed reporting and contracting requirements that our team must follow for all purchases and programs. 

We have also developed—and are currently updating—our project website and other materials to help the community understand our program’s goals, processes, and expected services. Our team is also responsible for the ongoing care and maintenance of the physical infrastructure at all three C3PO sites, so we manage the routine work of parts replacement, plumbing fixes, and address site safety concerns.

It takes a village to raise a Village

Assembling one of the Stanley Tiny Homes to be used at Menlo Park Safe Rest Village
Assembling one of the Stanley Tiny Homes to be used at Menlo Park Safe Rest Village

The Safe Rest Villages team is grateful for and reliant on partners across the City of Portland in other bureaus, particularly the Portland Bureau of Transportation, landowning partners at Prosper Portland, TriMet, and the Oregon Department of Transportation, as well as programmatic partners at the Joint Office of Homeless Services.

We are grateful for early leadership and direction from A Home for Everyone’s Safety Off the Streets Workgroup.  Since our formation, our team has been learning and engaging with a range of other community partners and allied programs including Portland State University’s Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative, Dignity Village, Beaverton's Safe Park Program, and San Francisco's Urban Alchemy to understand various program models, learn from the lessons of others, and gain inspiration.

Visit the Safe Rest Villages website. 


Safe Rest Village Program

(2020 Program Highlights)

Learn more about Commissioner Ryan's work on behalf of our unhoused neighbors: 

  • Led 8 meetings in 2020 between Commissioner Ryan, Chair Kafoury, Mayor Wheeler, and Commissioner Meieran to secure $2.5 million for the Joint Office's alternative shelter projects, including the RFPQ for providers—this opened the door for Safe Rest Villages. 
    Commissioner Ryan speaking at a press conference with Chair Kafoury, Mayor Wheeler, Speaker Kotek, Commissioner Jayapal in the background with community organizations
  • For the first time, Commissioner Ryan's office brought all 5 Council offices and bureau staff together to address houselessness as a unified body by creating and facilitating the Streets to Stability Task Force—the City never before met regularly to work on houselessness together and this collaboration has been the foundation of many City accomplishments on houselessness.Portland Tribune Coverage
  • Commissioner Ryan championed and unanimously passed the Shelter to Housing Continuum which amended City Code to make the siting and construction of outdoor shelters easier. Read the Shelter to Housing Continuum Policy. 
  • Unanimously passed the "Paving the Pathway from Streets to Stability" ordinance which codified camp cleanup criteria for the first time and laid further foundations for Safe Rest Villages. Paving the Pathway from Streets to Stability Policy. 
    A photo of Commissioner Ryan carrying furniture at the Arbor Lodge Cooling Shelter during the extreme heat event in the summer of 2021
    Commissioner Ryan volunteering at 2021's emergency cooling shelters
  • Worked with City bureaus to create a system to reimburse shelter permit fees to further remove barriers to shelter siting, using funds we advocated for and passed in the Fall BMP. 
  • Commissioner Ryan and his team volunteered at cooling and warming centers to support unhoused Portlanders at risk during extreme weather events. 
  • Commissioner Ryan negotiated an unprecedented $38M joint City/County investment in houselessness that will recruit and retain service providers, mitigate the environmental impacts of encampments, and streamline the Joint Office of Homeless Services' work to improve results. Read the joint press release. 
  • Commissioner Ryan supported an unprecedented statewide investment in behavioral health led by Representative Nosse and Senator Lieber. Read more about this monumental investment. 
  • Secured $1M from the State Legislature to run a Safe Park Program in Portland. 
    Commissioner Ryan pushing a bin at the Portland Building Warming Shelter in December 2021 during an extreme cold event
    Commissioner Ryan volunteering at the 2021 emergency warming shelters
  • Commissioner Ryan's office worked with a unified Portland City Council through early 2021 to reduce impacts at the Laurelhurst Park encampment, and—when life safety was threatened—led Council in unanimous action to humanely and effectively remove the encampment. Commissioner Ryan's staff served as City Council Liaison Officer and Civilian Public Information Officer for the intervention, and unhoused Portlanders were offered services and relocated peacefully. Portland Mercury Coverage.