Vancouver City Council awards contract to first supportive campsite service provider

On Monday, Sept. 27, Vancouver City Council voted unanimously to award a professional services contract for the operation of the city’s first supportive campsite for people experiencing homelessness to Vancouver-based Outsiders Inn — a homelessness advocacy and support organization. 

The nonprofit will run daily operations at the campsite ensuring safety, security and sanitation measures are maintained, and that camp residents have access to the stabilization resources and services they need. 

“Securing a committed and experienced service provider like Outsiders Inn is the next important step to urgently addressing the systemic issue of homelessness in the city,” said Jamie Spinelli, homeless services coordinator for the city. “They are a peer-run organization with services delivered by trained individuals who have lived experiences with homelessness, so they know what support is needed, how best to deliver it and do it with compassion.”

Determining a location for the first campsite is the next step in implementing the Vancouver’s supportive campsite program, which is part of the city’s Homelessness Response Plan. The city’s goal is to open three supportive campsites by the end of the year, providing support to approximately one-quarter of the estimated unsheltered population in Vancouver.

“Our city’s temporary supportive campsite program is not designed to resolve homelessness in the community, but rather to alleviate some of the most immediate, severe impacts to people and place,” said Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes. “Because these sites are supported, campsite residents will have greater access to services, increased stability and more safe, healthy and humane living conditions as individuals work to resolve their homelessness.”

Once the city selects locations for the campsites, the city will do extensive and robust outreach to all residents and business owners within 1,200 feet of the selected sites, seeking their input during a public comment period.

The supportive campsites will be managed 24/7 by nonprofit on-site operators, will have screening or fencing, will provide sanitation and hygiene services, and offer limited health services on site. 

Per the terms of the approved, one-year contract, the city will pay Outsiders Inn $571,148 for the services rendered.

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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.