Homelessness Response Plan

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We invite you to learn more about the City's second proposed Safe Stay Community.

Addressing the growing impacts of homelessness is a top priority at the City of Vancouver.

While Clark County remains the lead agency in addressing the systemic issue of homelessness in the region, the city has a plan to address its immediate impacts to community health, cleanliness, and safety, including:

  • Garbage, trash and clutter in public spaces
  • Residents living in tents/vehicles in public rights-of-way
  • Livability concerns for the unhoused, including the removal of barriers to accessing services

What is the City Doing Now?

We estimate that more than 500 people are currently living in tents or vehicles in Vancouver. Below is a snapshot of the City’s current efforts to mitigate the safety, cleanliness and health impacts of homelessness.

Current Strategy

About

Mail Service

Mail services provided five days a week through a partnership with Outsiders Inn. Learn more.

Sanitation Sites

Portable toilets, hand washing stations and garbage service at six campsite locations. Learn more.

Talkin’ Trash

Share Vancouver program, with funding support and coordination with the City, picks up 20 tons of trash monthly. Learn more.

HART

The City’s Homeless Assistance & Resources Team (HART) provides outreach and referrals to appropriate services for individuals experiencing homelessness and provides assessments for cleanup and sanitation needs. Learn more.

Camp Cleanups

The City has completed 14 camp cleanups since February 2021. Camp residents also receive support service referrals as part of the cleanup effort.

Safe Parking Zone

The City established a safe location for people living in their vehicles to park during the pandemic. The site has parking spaces for over 50 vehicles and serves more than 60 people. Learn more.

Safe Stay Community

On Dec. 23, 2021, the City of Vancouver opened its first Safe Stay Community, providing the most vulnerable in the community with warm, dry and secure surroundings where they have access to high-quality, compassionate life-saving and social services while they work to transition out of homelessness. Site features:

  • 20 modular Pallet shelters housing up to 40 people
  • Fenced and staffed 24/7 by nonprofit operator Outsiders Inn
  • Trash receptacles, sanitation services, portable toilets and handwashing stations
  • Meeting and office spaces and access to supportive services provided by local agencies

What’s Next?

The planned strategies are designed to help alleviate the negative impacts of homelessness to the housed and unhoused:

Strategy

About

Expand Talkin’ Trash

Expand team and scope to include intentional outreach and engagement in camps, and increased litter pick up.

Expand HART

  • Contract with Columbia River Mental Health to add Street Treatment Team
  • Additional team members include a certified mental health and substance use disorder professional, a professional to address minor medical needs, a peer-support counselor or outreach worker to connect people to housing and other needed resources, and a licensed professional with the ability to prescribe medications.
  • This team will provide proactive engagement, not crisis response.

Add More Safe Parking Locations

Locate more properties or partner with other entities to provide additional 24/7 Safe Parking sites for residents living in cars or RVs.

Establish Safe Stay Communities (formerly referred to as supportive campsites)

Supportive Safe Stay Communities will help ensure clean, safe and healthy conditions for housed and unhoused:

  • Limit to 20 modular Pallet shelters per site
  • Contract with nonprofit operator to staff each site 24/7
  • Provide fencing, sanitation and garbage services
  • Community-based services can be provided on site

Get Involved!

Provide input, ideas, comments and questions using the engagement tools below:

  • Share your ideas: We welcome constructive and positive feedback to help improve conditions for both our housed and unhoused residents.
  • Share your stories: Tell us how you have been impacted.
  • Ask a question: Send City staff a question.
  • Provide comments on specific Safe Stay Community locations as they are announced and register for associated information sessions.

We invite you to learn more about the City's second proposed Safe Stay Community.

Addressing the growing impacts of homelessness is a top priority at the City of Vancouver.

While Clark County remains the lead agency in addressing the systemic issue of homelessness in the region, the city has a plan to address its immediate impacts to community health, cleanliness, and safety, including:

  • Garbage, trash and clutter in public spaces
  • Residents living in tents/vehicles in public rights-of-way
  • Livability concerns for the unhoused, including the removal of barriers to accessing services

What is the City Doing Now?

We estimate that more than 500 people are currently living in tents or vehicles in Vancouver. Below is a snapshot of the City’s current efforts to mitigate the safety, cleanliness and health impacts of homelessness.

Current Strategy

About

Mail Service

Mail services provided five days a week through a partnership with Outsiders Inn. Learn more.

Sanitation Sites

Portable toilets, hand washing stations and garbage service at six campsite locations. Learn more.

Talkin’ Trash

Share Vancouver program, with funding support and coordination with the City, picks up 20 tons of trash monthly. Learn more.

HART

The City’s Homeless Assistance & Resources Team (HART) provides outreach and referrals to appropriate services for individuals experiencing homelessness and provides assessments for cleanup and sanitation needs. Learn more.

Camp Cleanups

The City has completed 14 camp cleanups since February 2021. Camp residents also receive support service referrals as part of the cleanup effort.

Safe Parking Zone

The City established a safe location for people living in their vehicles to park during the pandemic. The site has parking spaces for over 50 vehicles and serves more than 60 people. Learn more.

Safe Stay Community

On Dec. 23, 2021, the City of Vancouver opened its first Safe Stay Community, providing the most vulnerable in the community with warm, dry and secure surroundings where they have access to high-quality, compassionate life-saving and social services while they work to transition out of homelessness. Site features:

  • 20 modular Pallet shelters housing up to 40 people
  • Fenced and staffed 24/7 by nonprofit operator Outsiders Inn
  • Trash receptacles, sanitation services, portable toilets and handwashing stations
  • Meeting and office spaces and access to supportive services provided by local agencies

What’s Next?

The planned strategies are designed to help alleviate the negative impacts of homelessness to the housed and unhoused:

Strategy

About

Expand Talkin’ Trash

Expand team and scope to include intentional outreach and engagement in camps, and increased litter pick up.

Expand HART

  • Contract with Columbia River Mental Health to add Street Treatment Team
  • Additional team members include a certified mental health and substance use disorder professional, a professional to address minor medical needs, a peer-support counselor or outreach worker to connect people to housing and other needed resources, and a licensed professional with the ability to prescribe medications.
  • This team will provide proactive engagement, not crisis response.

Add More Safe Parking Locations

Locate more properties or partner with other entities to provide additional 24/7 Safe Parking sites for residents living in cars or RVs.

Establish Safe Stay Communities (formerly referred to as supportive campsites)

Supportive Safe Stay Communities will help ensure clean, safe and healthy conditions for housed and unhoused:

  • Limit to 20 modular Pallet shelters per site
  • Contract with nonprofit operator to staff each site 24/7
  • Provide fencing, sanitation and garbage services
  • Community-based services can be provided on site

Get Involved!

Provide input, ideas, comments and questions using the engagement tools below:

  • Share your ideas: We welcome constructive and positive feedback to help improve conditions for both our housed and unhoused residents.
  • Share your stories: Tell us how you have been impacted.
  • Ask a question: Send City staff a question.
  • Provide comments on specific Safe Stay Community locations as they are announced and register for associated information sessions.

Have a question for City Staff?

Do you have a question about our response to homelessness? Ask it here!

City staff will respond to your questions as quickly as possible. 

In most cases, your question and our answer will be visible to all users after we respond to it. Should we need to ask a clarifying, follow-up question, we may respond to you privately instead.

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  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    I know the city is working on a small scale for homeless housing, but the need is greater than the budget, so I suggest providing housing for single homeless individuals modeled on the capsule hotels in Japan. You can learn more about them at: https://www.gotokyo.org/en/story/guide/a-guide-to-capsule-hotels-in-japan/index.html <mailto:CMO@cityofvancouver.us> but note in Japan they are not allowed to be locked, which I would recommend against as long as both the hotel and the occupant has access and the pod contains a way to make a call for emergency help and the hallways are covered by surveillance cameras. One of the aspects that makes them cheaper is they are stacked 2 pod high. Also storage space would need to be available and tenant lockable for the typical volume of homeless camper possessions. Access to a personal phone number with message capability is important as well, so when they apply for jobs they have an address and personal phone number they can list. I suggest sending an employee to Japan to experience some of these capsule hotels first hand and to video the experience. Most of them are for businessmen, but there are a few for women as shown in the link provided. I also suggest showing the video to the homeless when surveying that population, since some are working and many are not. For most security of their personal property and person are the highest priority. They are a very diverse lot of people, and a few may even simply be afraid of closed spaces causing them to live outdoors. Fortunately I have never been homeless, but not everyone has parents they can rely on after finishing school. Former foster children, veterans, and released prisoners are at higher risk of being homeless. It takes substantial money to secure a rental apartment these days.

    SeniorMoment asked about 2 months ago

    Thank you for your email. This is an interesting idea.

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    How do I apply for help?

    asked about 2 months ago

    Thank you for your email. You didn't state what kind of help that you need, here are a few resources on how to get shelter

    • Housing Solutions Center Hotline 360-695-9677

    Safe Stay Communities

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    I happened across the "Stay Safe" community set up over off of 112th and was very encouraged. I wanted to ask if you need any volunteers now and again to assist with tasks? Thank you

    pdxtom asked 2 months ago

    Thank you for your question and wiliness to volunteer at our Safe Stay Communities. If you would like to volunteer at our safe stay at 112th and 51st circle please contact Outsiders Inn who is managing the site for the city. Outsiders Inn | Resource Advocacy for Vancouver WA.



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    Good morning, I do not know where to turn. We live on 16th an Lincoln. We have many camps starting down by the railroads and on the sidewalks on Markle. We have called 311 and non emergency police. It’s becoming unsafe to walk our pets at night. We need help. I’ve tried talking to the campers and it appears there’s mental illness. It hurts my heart while I also do not want to be captive in my own home. Thank you.

    Shannon asked 2 months ago

    Good Morning,

    Thank you for your question. The cities HART Team goes out into the community daily to assess camps that might need clean ups and to connect community members to services. Our plan is to be out at 16th and Lincoln next week to do a clean up. If you have other concerns about homelessness in the city please contact the HART Team at hartteam@cityofvancouver.us

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    The empty lot at the intersection of 205 N. exit ramp and NE Chkalov Dr. (Near the back of Pacific Northwest (PNW) Electrology & Skincare) has been cleared. I just wanted to take the time and thank you for your efforts. It was getting to be quite an eye sore. One question. Will this empty lot remain empty, our will it just fill up again? Thank you again.

    Maxpeck asked 3 months ago

    My whole team appreciates you taking the time to express your support. It’s hard to say, at this point, what will eventually happen at this site. I can tell you that there has been interest from another property owner in purchasing this property. If that happens, this property would then be private property and no one could camp on it. In the meantime, or if the sale doesn’t take place, we don’t actually have the ability to permanently keep people from camping there because it is public property. However, no one should be coming back anytime soon because we are completing some sanitation and pest control work on the property. HART will continue to monitor the site for outreach and sanitation needs as long as it remains public property.

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    Who do we contact to request a camp cleanup (including biohazard waste, drug needles, etc)?

    Thanr asked 3 months ago

    Thank you for your question. Please contact the HART Team at Hartteam@cityofvancouver.us or you can use the MYVancouver App Report an Issue Related to Homelessness | City of Vancouver, Washington, USA  to report camp clean up issues.

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    What can I do to help?

    Carleen asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your question! There are a variety of ways that people can get involved, from being part of the meal train, to supply donations, or even just creating special projects at each site. It really depends on what kind of help you’re interested in providing. You can check with Outsiders Inn to see what their current needs at the first Safe Stay Community are at outpost@outsidersinn.org, and you can check with Brian at Living Hope Church at briann@livinghopechurch.com to see what the second site might need.

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    I am a business own with an office in the Providence Academy downtown. The encampment across the street behind the library parking lot is growing bigger and grosser each day. I'm finding needles and garbage get left all over. Some of my clients don't feel safe walking to their cars in the evening. I am alarmed at the lack of response by Vancouver to address this issue swiftly and definitively. Business owners have fled Portland for their lack of response. Are we going to turn a blind eye to the decay as well?? This can't be the new normal...

    E asked 5 months ago

    Hello,

    This and many other encampments throughout the City of Vancouver grew during the covid-19 pandemic. Per the CDC guidelines and Governor's Orders encampments are not being forced to move about in an effort to reduce transmission of the virus among vulnerable populations. As the end of the pandemic response nears the City has adopted a plan for working our way through a process for addressing the established encampments, as well as unsheltered homelessness overall. More on the City’s plan can be found here: https://www.beheardvancouver.org/homelessness-response. There is a video presentation of the plan to City Council embedded on the page.  Additionally, the past several City Council meetings have involved agenda items voted on and approved to move the process forward (ordinance changes, zoning, contract awards, etc).  You may watch prior council meetings on www.CVTV.org .

    The HART Team monitors this camp for solid waste removal, health, sanitation, and other reasons to include connection with services for ultimate removal.  This site has ebbed and flowed in size and scope over the past several months. The good news is that a plan is in place and eventually this and many other encampments around the City will be addressed with more permanent solutions.  The unfortunate news is the housing/care system is overwhelmed and it will take several more weeks and possibly months before we realize these goals.

    Last, we encourage anyone who observes criminal activity or unsafe behavior to report it immediately to 911 so law enforcement can connect with the problem when or close to when it is occurring.

    Thank you

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    I greatly appreciate the efforts you are putting in for the homeless in the area. I recently visited Austin, TX and was impressed how they aren't stingy with trash and portable restrooms. They were in the middle of a commercial area though, not next to housing. In addition, there were police periodically patrolling the area. Vancouver Police are unable to catch someone whom they have evidence for. In the creation of these camps, what are you doing to protect existing long term citizens and do you actually plan to do anything about crime as a result of these camps? We realize not every homeless person is dangerous or has mal-intent, but many do. Citizens like myself want to know the city government is protecting us just like you are caring after the homeless. I'm all for it, but it needs to be done responsibly and with the rest of us in mind. All of us. Not the better half two zip codes over.

    TippyThompson asked 4 months ago

    Hello,

     

    One of the reasons for the development of the Safe Stay Communities is to enhance the safety for everyone in the surrounding community.  The Safe Stays have 24/7 providers on site to engage with those living there.  The code of conduct and behavioral expectations extend well beyond the borders of the Safe Stay location and into the surrounding community.  Police partner with the Safe Stay communities thru the HART team (Homeless Assistance and Resource Team).  The first Safe Stay community has been very successful in reducing the need for law enforcement services both at the Safe Stay itself as well as in the surrounding area.  We believe this site will experience the same success.  Additionally, in case you were not aware, the Vancouver Police Department deploys from two precincts, East and West.  The VPD West Precinct happens to be walking distance from the new Safe Stay, so police will constantly be in the area as they come and go from the precinct 24/7.  We believe we will see the same or less criminal activity in the are due to the presence of the Safe Stay and those staying there, not more.  Thank you.

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    Why have it in a neighborhood area? Should be in the parking lot of Living Hope Church. I live in this area and very concerned about the migration of crime, safety and property values.

    k-bo asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your question. When the concept of these Safe Stay Communities were approved by City Council last summer, the preference was that we start by utilizing city-owned properties, in part because this is something we’re piloting, and these sites are intended to be temporary. Additionally, while Living Hope Church certainly has a large parking lot, their facilities are used so frequently for a variety of things, including renting their space out to other churches, utilizing their property for a 24/7 operation just isn’t possible right now.

     

    In regards to your comment about migration, safety, and property values—there are already many many people camping in this general area, and that’s exactly who we’re looking to offer space in this site to if this site is selected, just as we did with the first Safe Stay Community on 51st Circle. Despite all of the unsanctioned camping that is already occurring, property values everywhere in our community continue to rise. We’ve also established a 1000’ no-camping buffer around each Safe Stay Community to protect the neighborhood as well as the site residents from additional camps being set up nearby, and to ensure we aren’t overburdening any one area or neighborhood. 

     

    These sites are intended to increase safety, sanitation, and services in areas where camping already exists. Our first site is an excellent example of that — there’s been a huge reduction in the need for emergency services at that location, it’s much cleaner, it’s very calm, and many neighbors appreciate the change that’s taken place there…not to mention the successes that are already occurring for folks living in that site, including employment, completing treatment, accessing healthcare services, etc.

Page last updated: 22 Jun 2022, 01:23 PM