City of Vancouver announces location of first supportive Safe Stay Community

The City of Vancouver’s first supportive Safe Stay Community for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness will be located at 11400 NE 51st Circle on city-owned right of way along an undeveloped cul-de-sac in the North Image neighborhood. View map (PDF).

This is the first of several supportive sites the city plans to establish as part of its Homelessness Response Plan. Previously referred to as supportive campsites, the city’s Safe Stay Communities will use modular pallet shelters instead of tents, which will offer residents safer and more stabilizing shelter as they work to resolve their homelessness. 

The Safe Stay Community at 11400 NE 51st Circle will provide 20 modular shelters housing up to 40 people. The site will be fenced and staffed 24/7 by the onsite nonprofit operator, Outsiders Inn. It will include trash receptacles and sanitation services, portable toilets and handwashing stations, meeting and office space, and access to supportive services provided by local agencies.

Part of the area near the city’s first supportive site is currently occupied by multiple homeless encampments. These encampments will be removed when the new Safe Stay Community is set up in adherence with the city’s camping ordinance, which prohibits camping within 1,000 feet of the supportive sites. The city anticipates work to clear and set up the first Safe Stay Community will begin in early December.

Public comment period now open

The city will mail letters to property owners, residents and businesses within 1,200 feet of the first Safe Stay Community site informing them of the decision and inviting them to provide feedback during a public comment period that ends Dec. 1. Comments are being accepted online, via email and by telephone. Learn more at www.cityofvancouver.us/safestaycomment. 

The city will also host two virtual community information sessions during the comment period to share information about the first Safe Stay Community site and how it will be operated with nearby residents and businesses and respond to their questions. 

Details about the information sessions will be included in the letters mailed to residents and property owners. Video recordings of each session will also be posted publicly on the Homelessness Response Plan webpage on Be Heard Vancouver (www.beheardvancouver.org/homelessness-response) and the City’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/CityofVancouverUS).

Additional updates on the city’s Homelessness Response Plan 

The city plans to open additional Safe Parking Zones for people living in their vehicles as part of its Homelessness Response Plan. The city’s first Safe Parking Zone, located at C-TRAN’s Evergreen Transit Center, 1504 NE 138th Ave., was opened during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Vancouver Mall parking lot before moving to the transit center, has been operating successfully for more than a year. 

With over 50 parking spaces for RVs/trailers and other passenger vehicles, the Safe Parking Zone currently serves more than 60 people. Similar services to what will be offered at the Safe Stay Communities are also provided at the Safe Parking Zone. Recently, the city hired one of the current residents to help manage the site and hopes that the opportunity will help him and his family transition to permanent housing soon. 

Learn more about the current Safe Parking Zone at www.cityofvancouver.us/safeparking. 

The city also recently hired a full-time encampment response coordinator as part of its Homeless Assistance and Resources Team (HARTeam). The primary responsibilities of the encampment response coordinator will be to assess camps for cleanup and sanitation needs, and locate, assess and clear abandoned camps. The city’s HARTeam provides compassionate outreach and assistance to people experiencing homelessness and serves as a point of contact for community members with concerns or questions about homelessness.

Community members can report active or abandoned camps and other concerns related to homelessness within the city limits to the HARTeam using the free MyVancouver mobile and desktop app. Visit www.cityofvancouver.us/MyVancouver to learn more.

Learn more about the city’s Homelessness Response Plan and sign up to receive email updates at www.beheardvancouver.org/homelessness-response. 

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Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.