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What Safe Rest Villages Will and Will Not Be

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Understanding Safe Rest Villages: What They Will and Will Not Be: Safe Rest Villages will be short-term, managed outdoor shelters for people experiencing houselessness.

This page originally published Thursday 10.14.21; updated Tuesday 11.10.21

Understanding Safe Rest Villages: What They Will and Will Not Be

Safe Rest Villages will be short-term, managed outdoor shelters for Portlanders experiencing houselessness—this model has been deployed in urban areas across the country, but it is new for Portland. Here is how Safe Rest Villages will benefit both housed and unhoused neighbors.

A graphic depicting service priorities for Safe Rest Villages. Values: dignity, safety, community, compassion. Housing: private space, shared space. Infrastructure: electricity, clean water, Wi-Fi, HVAC, food preparation, fire safety, public transportation. Hygiene: laundry, showers, flush toilets, garbage, recycling. Access to services: case management, mental health supports, substance abuse supports, housing supports, community advocates, first aid & medical care.

Safe Rest Villages WILL be:

  • Outdoor shelters—as opposed to brick-and-mortar indoor shelters—for Portlanders experiencing houselessness that will address basic needs including hygiene services and case management.
  • 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.
  • Offer case management and social service support to address the trauma of houselessness, treatment for unmet mental health needs, substance use disorders, and prepare villagers for their next steps including entering recovery, going home, reconnecting with family, or entering permanent supportive housing, among other options.
  • Provide a low barrier to entry, with very few minimum qualifications to be a villager: villagers need to be at least 18 years old and experiencing houselessness—outside of that, villagers can bring their pets, partners, and personal belongings.
  • Offer private, lockable pods for people to sleep safely and store their belongings.
  • Partners with low barrier employers to mitigate camping, trash, graffiti, and environmental impacts from the Villages to ensure all villagers 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 yet-to-be-determined site-specific amenities like raised bed gardens or mini-libraries.
  • Established so villagers can engage respectfully with the surrounding neighborhood, with teams that regularly maintain and clean the perimeter for blocks around each of the sites.

Safe Rest Villages will NOT be:

  • Tent camps—Safe Rest Villages will be managed villages with pods for privacy, sleeping and storage, trash service, and onsite shared showers, restrooms, laundry, and kitchen, and social services.
  • 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 set the expectation that villagers stabilize their lives and then are connected to permanent supportive housing.
  • Self-managed camps, as some existing outdoor shelters currently operate—Safe Rest Villages will be managed by contracted non-profit partners who provide wraparound services that benefit villagers, including moving unhoused Portlanders into permanent supportive housing, recovery programs, reconnecting with home or family, or whatever the next steps in their journey might be.