Our vision is to create multiple temporary alternative shelter sites in the City of Portland, with each site helping up to 200 unsheltered Portlanders find safety, stability, and the chance to connect case workers and service providers standing ready to help. 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.
These sites will 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 will be complementary to the existing shelter system and provide a desperately needed low-barrier option for houseless populations that are not using available shelter beds.
The first site - Clinton Triangle - began operations in July 2023. You can find more information about the site and future sites below.
Initially, each site will have up to 150 pods and/or tent platforms (for up to 200 people, although some sites may be smaller). We intend to develop some sites for those living in RVs who need a safe place to live with access to wrap-around services. We do not expect any site to shelter more than 200 individuals, and City Council would need to approve any population increase above 200.
- Individual pods 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 temporary alternative shelter 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.
To support the extensive services at each site, Urban Alchemy, as of August 2023, has hired more than 130 people 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.
- The site's pods were manufactured by Portland-based Lit Workshop.
- Multiple containerized restroom, shower, and laundry facilities were manufactured by Tigard-based ContekPro.
- Industrial kitchen items for meal storage and prep were purchased from Pitman Restaurant Equipment.
- Urban Alchemy is contracting with Feed the Mass, a local nonprofit, to supply meals to the TASS.
Referral Process and Outreach:
Temporary Alternative Shelter Site placements require a referral-based entry system through the City of Portland and our partners. Shelter locations are unable to accept on-site walk-ins. The City wants to emphasize this to prevent confusion and/or lines of people waiting outside the site. Those interested in being connected to a congregate shelter should call 211 or visit Shelter and Homeless Services for additional information.
The City of Portland's Street Services Coordination Center offers homeless Portlanders they make contact with an immediately-available shelter bed, complimentary transportation to that bed with their immediate belongings, free storage for additional items, and other services. This team is able to refer people to congregate shelters, Safe Rest Villages, and Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites based on availability and the needs of the person seeking shelter.
The Joint Office for Homeless Services (a City of Portland and Multnomah County partnership) lead the Navigation Outreach Team, which is comprised of three different nonprofit partners, Transition Projects, Central City Concern and the Mental Health Association of Oregon, who can refer Portlanders to shelter.
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, removal options will include the PPB Behavioral Health Unit and Portland Street Response.
- 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.
Care for the surrounding neighborhood
- Clinton Triangle sits at an intersection between vibrant residential and industrial neighborhoods – Hosford-Abernethy to the northeast, Brooklyn to the southwest of Powell Boulevard and the Central Eastside to the northwest.
- The City has established an agreement that Urban Alchemy secure, clean and patrol a perimeter of approximately 1,000-foot outside the Temporary Alternative Shelter Site, where the City will prohibit unsanctioned camping. Urban Alchemy will provide direct outreach to any unsheltered persons in that area through daily walking rounds in the area. Business owners, residents, school principals are encouraged to engage with Urban Alchemy and contact facilitators about any concerns related to the site.
- The City engaged with neighborhood associations over three months and 10+ meetings to facilitate a Good Neighbor Agreement that captures the community’s expectations for this location, along with identified data metrics to measure its impact on the community and on helping Portland make progress on the challenge of unsheltered homelessness.
- The City is leveraging its successful Problem Solver meeting structure, organized through the Public Environment Management Office, to capture regular feedback from the neighborhood’s on top priority livability improvements.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
- Why not just build affordable housing?
The crisis on our streets calls for immediate action. We can prioritize the development of additional affordable housing while also providing safe temporary shelter to those currently living on our streets. Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites will serve as a bridge to more permanent options, preparing unsheltered Portlanders for safe and hygienic affordable housing while also providing them with critical access to services.
Our city currently has a housing gap (meaning the number of affordable housing units we’d need to house everyone in need) of 20,000 units. The 5-resolution plan calls for greatly increasing the production of affordable housing. The city is working on various projects to meet this goal and will also be working in partnership with the State on the potential resources that the State Legislature is considering that will support affordable housing development.
- 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 will offer numerous ‘Community Conversations’ for each Temporary Alternative Shelter Site to get your 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 will be 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 will not be 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 SSCC will work 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.
- Where will these sites be located?
The first temporary alternative shelter location will be at the Clinton Triangle in Southeast Portland (1490 SE Gideon St).
Future sites will be thoughtfully located across other geographic areas in the city, both on the West and East side of the city. The goal is to have minimal impact on the surrounding communities while also locating near public transit. Conversations surrounding real estate are confidential for a variety of reasons, and until firm commitments are in place, we are unable to identify specific locations.
For any potential site, the City of Portland will conduct outreach to nearby residents and businesses and will seek to establish a Good Neighbor Agreement with the surrounding community. If you are a resident, business owner, or frequent visitor of a neighborhood where a temporary alternative shelter site may be located, we will do our best to reach out to you. We will leverage the Neighborhood Associations for engagement on any Good Neighbor Agreement. We welcome concerns, comments, and ideas from all Portlanders. This is truly a community-wide effort and we want your partnership.
The City will prohibit unsanctioned amping in a 1,000 ft. perimeter zone around each site and direct resources from the Street Services Coordination Center to respond immediately to reports of unsanctioned camps in those areas.
If you have further questions, please email MayorWheeler@portlandoregon.gov.