This page was last updated Feb. 26, 2024
Portland's Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites provide a compassionate service model that is informed by those with lived experience, including a safe, secure, and hygienic place for residents to meaningfully connect with services to access housing, mental health support, substance use disorder treatment and other critical resources provided by non-profit and county partners. The sites complement the existing shelter system and provide a desperately needed low-barrier option for houseless populations that are not using available shelter beds.
The goal is for every individual at these sites to develop their own specific plan on how to take the next best step in their life to leave behind the suffering of living unsheltered on the streets.
- Each site will have up to space to accommodate a range of shelter capacity from 40 to 250 people.
- Sites offering individual pods are designed with ADA accessibility in mind (doorway ramps added as needed). Pods can also shelter two individuals who seek to be together
- Some sites may be set up for RV residency
- A small number of tent platforms for individuals who may not want to move into a pod right away
- Meals: Average of one meal per day, plus snack (our experience reveals one meal is enough since not everyone eats the meal; there is typically enough food for those who seek 2 or 3 meals per day)
- Restrooms and showers, with some ADA-accessible restrooms
- Laundry access
- Community space for building connections and meeting with social workers
- Decompression areas
- Pet areas
- Storage space for personal goods
- Access to public transit/transportation
- Electricity (i.e., for phone charging)
- Designated parking areas
- Perimeter fencing
- Regular trash collection and hazardous waste removal
- Livability enhancements like planter boxes, artwork, etc.
After a careful review process, the City selected Urban Alchemy to manage the sites. Urban Alchemy brings extensive experience managing shelters and working with the homeless population. To serve the Portland locations, Urban Alchemy has hired extensively from the Portland community. More than 130 people have been hired locally.
Urban Alchemy operates with a strong ethos of giving people a second chance. Their model is well-suited in providing services to a population of guests because many of their staff have survived similar challenges. 92% of Urban Alchemy’s overall organization staff are BIPOC. 96% have been incarcerated and/or experienced homelessness.
At each location, Urban Alchemy and the City will provide:
- 24/7 operations with 1 guest services staff for every 15 guests.
- Single point of entry and exit for guests at the site with 24/7 check in/out procedures.
- Daily access to care coordination managers who will help guest navigate the bureaucracy of social services (1 care coordination manager to every 20 guests).
- Access to medical professionals.
- Close coordination Multnomah County to use a Built For Zero client-centered public health approach to guide clients through the continuum of care.
- Referral-based entry system through the City of Portland. Walk-ins will not be allowed.
- Stay for an indefinite period of time. Though the intention is for an individual to use these sites temporarily before transitioning to other housing or care, there will be no specific time limit regarding length of stay.
Referral Process and Outreach:
The demand for shelter is high in Portland. Clinton Triangle Temporary Alternative Shelter Site is kept at maximum occupancy through a deliberate and controlled referral process. Because of this, there is no method to call and directly request space.
Instead, referrals to shelters are largely handled during interactions between City and County outreach workers and the homeless individuals they communicate with. Outreach workers help individuals find the most appropriate shelter and coordinate the steps to entering a shelter, as sometimes there are issues to work through. For instance, helping a person navigate issues with pets, friends or family, and personal possessions is all a part of preparing to enter a shelter.
Additionally, to respect the neighboring community and avoid lines, Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites are unable to accept walk-ins. Our current referral process keeps occupancy at shelter sites at maximum capacity. Walk-ins are not accepted to prevent confusion and/or lines of people waiting outside the site.
The best way to learn more about other shelter opportunities in the Portland area is to call 2-1-1 or visit the Joint Office of Homeless Services Shelter and Homeless Services webpage. These resources include links and contact information for shelter and service providers in the Portland area.
The City of Portland, together with our County partners and the Joint Office of Homeless Services, prioritize efforts that help homeless individuals get off the street and into permanent housing. The City’s Street Services Coordination Center interacts daily with homeless Portlanders as they respond to reports of unsanctioned camps. During these interactions, outreach workers offer a limited number of immediately-available shelter beds, complimentary transportation to that bed with their immediate belongings, free storage for additional items, and other services.
Individuals living unsheltered on the street and seeking help to navigate their next steps can make a request here. Please be aware this form is not designed to be an immediate/emergency response system, nor is it a guarantee of shelter, but outreach workers will attempt to make contact and help individuals navigate their next steps.
Key Site Rules:
- Alcohol and drugs cannot be consumed in common areas/public spaces.
- No cooking or fires are allowed.
- Each guest must agree to community guidelines that emphasize respect for their neighbor.
- No guns or illegal weapons; any other potential weapon (e.g. pocket knives) will be securely stored before a guest can access the site.
- If an individual needs to be excluded from a site because a person is a clear / present danger to themselves or others, an Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team (ECIT) certified police officer may be requested to respond to the location by calling 9-1-1. Once the scene is determined to be safe, the ECIT certified police officer may request assistance from Portland Street Response (PSR).
- 24/7 hotline staffed by service provider for complaints or questions about the site or perimeter issues.
- On-site service provider will monitor an area of approximately 1,000 ft. surrounding the site to engage and communicate with neighbors, engage immediately to new unsanctioned campsites, and report incidents of illegal activities (drug dealing, etc).
- Light trash cleanup in the 1,000 ft. area and immediate reporting of large amounts of trash to the City’s Impact Reduction Team or Metro RID.
- Service provider will engage regularly with surrounding residents, clients, businesses, neighborhood associations, and Enhanced Service Districts.
- Sites will be chosen with availability of public transit in mind.
- Sites may include RV / car options.
- Parking availability and rules will be aligned to reduce impact on the surrounding community.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
- Why not just build affordable housing?
Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites will serve as a bridge to more permanent options, preparing unsheltered Portlanders for safe affordable housing while providing them with critical access to services.
- Will you meet with residents and/or business owners living in the neighborhoods where these sites plan to be located?
Yes, and we encourage your participation. We offer numerous community engagement opportunities for each Temporary Alternative Shelter Site to get input, answer questions, and work together to develop a Good Neighbor Agreement. If you’re located in a neighborhood where we plan to locate a site, we will deploy numerous outreach methods to help ensure you get connected.
- What population are the Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites designed to help?
Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites are intended for use by the unsheltered adult population.
The City of Portland's Street Services Coordination Center (SSCC) homeless outreach workers are trained to match clients with best available services and shelter options, which include continuing to place Portlanders in the numerous existing shelter programs across the city.
- What is the response when someone in a Temporary Alternative Shelter Site is a clear and present danger to themselves or others?
Guests are not allowed to stay at these sites if they are violent to others or themselves. The goal, however, is to understand the circumstances for each individual. These sites will be staffed by Urban Alchemy employees trained and experienced in responding to stressful situations in which someone may be experienced a mental health crisis. Police and emergency services will have access to these locations for emergency response. If additional support is required—of if you currently witness someone experiencing a mental health emergency—we encourage you to contact Portland Street Response or the Portland Police Bureau’s Behavioral Health Unit, both of which can be reached by dialing 911.
- Will there be waiting lists for the sites?
The City of Portland works with other service providers to identify individuals for entry into each site. As each site meets capacity, our outreach teams will time their offers of shelter to correspond with available space.
- Will there be parking at these large camps?
To reduce the need for parking, ideal sites will be located near public transit options. Parking arrangements at each site will be arranged so as to minimize impact on the surrounding community.
- Will there be a time limit on how long people can stay?
TASS is intended to be a low barrier shelter to reflect the diversity of needs in our community. Some individuals may simply need a secure place to stay for a few weeks or months before moving into more permanent accommodations. Others may need more extensive attention as they rebuild their lives over the course of many months. To reflect these diverse needs, there will be no artificial time limit on duration of stay.
- How have you engaged with unhoused people in the creation of this plan?
Our service providers are trained in evidence-based, anti-bias, and trauma-informed care methods. They have spoken thousands of individuals living unsheltered on our streets, and often know much about each individual. These efforts build trust over time that helps guide folks to an appropriate service.
- Will each camp site be indefinite?
We are currently looking at a 3-year lifetime for each designated campsite. We will share data for each site about numbers of guests and outcomes for each guest. We will model our data after that collected at Safe Rest Villages.
If you have further questions, please email MayorWheeler@portlandoregon.gov.