What Safe Rest Villages Are and Are Not

Interior view of tiny home in Menlo Safe Rest Village

This page originally published Thursday 10.14.21; updated Thursday 11.2.22

Understanding Safe Rest Villages: What They Are and Are Not

Safe Rest Villages are temporary, managed outdoor shelters for Portlanders experiencing houselessness. This model has been deployed in urban areas across the country, but it is newer for Portland. There are lots of misconceptions around what differentiates a Village from an unsanctioned encampment, and we wanted to address those directly. 

Services provided, by category, at Safe Rest Villages

Safe Rest Villages ARE:

  • Outdoor shelters—as opposed to brick-and-mortar indoor shelters—for Portlanders experiencing houselessness. They provide access to basic needs, like showers and food, while also providing wraparound behavioral health and case management services. 
  • A positive change for both villagers and neighbors currently experiencing unsanctioned camping and its impacts.
  • Fully staffed with security fencing to protect villagers from harassment or invasions of privacy as experienced when living in unsanctioned locations on the street—only villagers and their guests will be allowed to enter the villages.
  • Spaces where people currently experiencing houselessness can find respite from the volatility of life on the streets, gain stability, and receive supports to achieve permanent housing.
  • Offering case management and social service support to address the trauma of houselessness, treatment for unmet mental health needs, substance use disorders, and prepare villagers to achieve their personal goals, be they to return home / reconnect with family, to find permanent supportive housing, or to enter recovery, among other options.
  • Offering private, lockable shelter units for people to sleep safely and store their belongings.
  • Partners with the City's Impact Reduction Team, which contracts low barrier employers to mitigate camping, trash, graffiti, and environmental impacts from the Villages to ensure all Villages are good neighbors.
  • Designed and managed to reduce the harm that life on the streets creates.
  • Locations for communal gathering, with shared kitchen, laundry, shower, and restroom facilities, as well as site-specific amenities like raised bed gardens.
  • Established so Villages are a recognized as part of the surrounding neighborhood.

Safe Rest Villages ARE NOT:

  • Tent camps—Safe Rest Villages will be managed villages with shelter units for privacy, sleeping and storage. Trash service, onsite shared showers, restrooms, laundry, kitchen, and social services are included.
  • The same as unsanctioned camping, which causes trauma for Portlanders experiencing houselessness, and negatively impacts housed neighbors.
  • Permanent housing—Safe Rest Villages will support the transition to permanent supportive housing and support the villagers in stabilizing their lives and connecting to permanent supportive housing.
  • Self-managed, as some existing outdoor shelters currently operate—Safe Rest Villages are managed by contracted non-profit partners who provide wraparound services that help participants identify barriers to stability.