Homelessness Response Plan

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We invite you to learn more about the City's third 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 implemented 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. A second Safe Parking Zone was approved in the 2023-24 City budget. Learn more.

Safe Stay Community

Since December 2021, the City has opened two supportive Safe Stay Communities, 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. Planning for a third community is underway and anticipated to open January 2023. Site features:

  • 20 modular Pallet shelters housing up to 40 people
  • Fenced and staffed 24/7 by a nonprofit operator
  • 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 Two More Safe Stay Communities

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 third 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 implemented 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. A second Safe Parking Zone was approved in the 2023-24 City budget. Learn more.

Safe Stay Community

Since December 2021, the City has opened two supportive Safe Stay Communities, 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. Planning for a third community is underway and anticipated to open January 2023. Site features:

  • 20 modular Pallet shelters housing up to 40 people
  • Fenced and staffed 24/7 by a nonprofit operator
  • 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 Two More Safe Stay Communities

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

    Hello, with Portland likely shifting to making homeless street camping illegal outside of sanctioned sites, does Vancouver have any plans to do the same. My concern is that we will see an influx of homeless camping as a result unless we change our policies toward allowing unsanctioned homeless camps in the city.

    NickN asked 19 days ago

    Thank you for your question! Because of the Martin v. Boise decision, communities cannot ban camping on all public property unless an adequate alternative is provided. Portland’s plan is to create very large sanctioned tent camping sites, and it’s really unknown at this time if that would stand up in the courts as an “adequate alternative.” For the last year, Vancouver has been standing up what we call Safe Stay Communities, which are small village-like alternative shelter communities. More details about those sites and the rationale behind them can be found here: https://www.beheardvancouver.org/homelessness-response, and I would specifically recommend watching the embedded video of the initial presentation to Council on that page from last May: https://www.beheardvancouver.org/homelessness-response/widgets/33487/videos/2678

     

    So the short answer to your question is that we cannot ban camping unless we’re also adding shelter beds, which we have been working to do, as quickly as possible, since last fall. Each of these sites comes with a 1000’ no-camping buffer as a way to reduce the camping in those areas, easing the burdens on those neighborhoods/areas, as well as creating a safe place for the folks living inside the Safe Stay Communities. 

     

    I hope this is helpful in answering your question, but please feel free to reach out with any additional questions. 

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    Why are the homless aloud to camp in our Vancouver City parks? The park and walking area on NE Andresen rd in North Crest Park at NE 18th st. Its next to Burt Bridge Creek. They are next to walking path sidewalk and make people uncomfortable. They are withing this patk area and up and down NE Andresen begging. They live next to the food carts at Living Hope Church and Starbucks.Please lets get them to move on!! The trash and yent cities are an ete sore, as well as dirty with wsy too much begging! Thank you.

    Jenny willis asked 23 days ago

    Camping is not allowed in Vancouver City Parks.  The Burnt Bridge Trail system is not a City park under the established park rules for the purposes of enforcement, except for the paved trail itself and 15 feet either side of the trail.  The rest of the property near or under the BPA powerlines is undeveloped easement which the BPA allows the City to use for the multi-purpose trail and creek maintenance.  The HART monitors this camp and has a scheduled cleanup planned for Tuesday Nov 8th.  Abandoned sites will be removed and large camps will be reduced in size.  Solid waste will be collected along with all shopping carts left along the trail’s edge.

     

    Panhandling is not illegal (holding a cardboard sign), but Aggressive Panhandling (intimidating, assaulting, blocking the way) under the Vancouver Municipal Code is.  Anyone who feels they are being subjected to Aggressive Panhandling as defined by law may call 311 or 911 to report that offense.

     

    There are no laws which give the City authority to “move folks along” just because they are homeless and on public property.  In fact, the law requires outreach and engagement to attempt to connect folks with adequate shelter or housing prior to any enforcement.  The City is aggressively working on increasing shelter and housing options to get folks up and off the streets and into better living environments.  The City also works to address the negative impacts of unsheltered homelessness.  More on the City’s plan can be found on this page (https://www.beheardvancouver.org/homelessness-response).

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    how do you apply for a tiny shelter, I have two dogs and cant go to a shelter. I am 50 years old and have mental disorders. can you tell me how I can get into one of the safe tiny houses. I have no family here that can help me. thank you

    Saraslucky asked 30 days ago

    Thank you for your question. To apply for one of our Safe Stay communities you can contact our HART team at hartteam@cityofvancouver.us or call at 360.487.8626. You can also contact Outsiders Inn at 360.695.9677, who is running out Outpost and Living Hope Church at hopevillage@livinghopechurch.com who runs Hope Village. 

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    How does one get housing at the stay safe village

    Junya asked about 1 month ago

    Thank you for your email. One could apply for a spot in one of our Safe Stay Communities by calling Outsiders Inn at 360.695.9677 or by emailing Living Hope Church at hopevillage@livinghopechurch.com

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    All these measures are to improve the conditions of the living in the camps. Nothing is mentioned about people living in the area, who are scared to go out of there homes, are constantly abused by the inhabitants of the tents, their property is vandalized, and maintenance fees are sky high. What is going to be done to make the streets clear, clean, and safe? We pay taxes for policing, and there is no policing whatsoever. The city fails to provide decent environment and protection for citizens and their property, while depriving them of any means to defend themselves. Shameful!!

    Elife asked about 1 month ago

    Thank you for your question. While the Safe Stay Communities certainly do provide safer and healthier living conditions to the folks living inside of them, they also do the same for the neighborhoods they exist in. Each location comes with a 1000’ no-camping buffer, which is consistently enforced, so neighbors near the sites don’t have to contend with the tents or the people inside them. 

     

    It is required of site residents to be/learn how to be good neighbors to everyone in the site, as well as to the surrounding neighbors and communities. When people move into the sites, they are also required to work on whatever barriers they have to stability, whether that’s mental/behavioral health, physical health, legal issues, etc. It’s been our experience that when most people stabilize and begin working on their challenges, those behaviors you mentioned tend to begin to disappear. It’s also true that not everyone will be a good fit for the Safe Stay Communities, but if someone is asked to leave or just chooses to not come in, it’s not an option for them to camp or just hang around outside of the space because of that buffer.

     

    It actually sounds as though most of your concerns sound to be about police service, or the perceived lack thereof, in response to criminal activity rather than about homelessness or the addition of services to move unsheltered homeless into shelter or housing and off the streets.

     

    I would strongly recommend also sending your concerns about the policing in the City to VANPD@cityofvancouver.us and ask for a response from the Police Department. While law enforcement should not be utilized to address homelessness, they should be the response to criminal activity, like trespassing, vandalism, assault, etc., regardless of the housing status of the individual committing the crime. 

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    Why are the homeless allowed to camp anywhere, throw trash all over, spray paint graffiti drink and deal drugs in Marshall and Central Park, but I need to make a reservation? Also why are they allowed to camp at I-5 and Mill Plain then terrorize the Hudson’s Bay neighbors and nothing happens to them? Why is Vancouver adopting the same feel good failed policies that Portland and Seattle have demonstrated with 30 years of history that don’t work? Why when 80% of Vancouvers population is against letting the Homeless run wild, trash our city, and camp anywhere is it allowed to happen? Why is a minority opinion driving failed policies and wasting millions?

    Ban drug bum camps asked 2 months ago

    Due to a landmark decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, municipalities cannot criminalize camping on all public property at all times unless there is an available adequate alternative, meaning some kind of shelter or housing. The City has been working to quickly create more shelter space over the last year, but we still don’t have enough. In the meantime, the City’s outreach team, HART, continually visits camps all over the city to connect individuals with needed and available services/shelter, and continually monitors camps for health and safety. We work with camps to mitigate any health and safety issues, and if those issues cannot be mitigated, we will then remove a camp. However, until we have enough shelter space, those folks will likely just move to the next available space nearby, or sometimes even return to the same space, which would then start that process over. More about what the City is doing/has done can be found by clicking through this Be Heard page.

    The camps along the freeways, like the one you mentioned, are on WSDOT property. The City has no authority to cleanup or remove camps on WSDOT property.

    Camping at schools, parks, and libraries is strictly prohibited, so if you see camps in those spaces, or illegal activity, such as you described, please report that to law enforcement.

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    Hello, what is the plan for relocating homeless campers from in and along the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail and surrounding green spaces? There is a large increase in campers over last year. As a woman who often uses that trail alone to run, walk and bike, I do not feel comfortable with any number of unhoused people camping in these areas. I understand the city is doing much to remedy homelessness. However, continuing to allow camping is dangerous for all. I’m concerned about that area becoming the same as Portland’s Johnson Creek trail which is basically ruined for housed taxpayers. I’m very much trying to be empathetic, but feel my right for safe spaces/places to recreate are being ignored. When that happens, people with means, like myself, will simply leave and relocate to other areas. Taking away the tax dollars you need to fund programs for services. I’d like to hear your response and plans on this matter. Thank you, Monica

    Monica Borden asked 4 months ago

    In order to truly relocate individuals living outdoors vs. just moving them around or displacing them, we have to have spaces for them to move to. Due to a landmark decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, municipalities cannot criminalize camping on all public property at all times unless there is an available adequate alternative, meaning some kind of shelter or housing. The City has been working to quickly create more shelter space over the last year, but we still don’t have enough. In the meantime, the City’s outreach team, HART, continually visits camps all over the city to connect individuals with needed and available services/shelter, and continually monitors camps for health and safety. We work with camps to mitigate any health and safety issues, and if those issues cannot be mitigated, we will then remove a camp. However, until we have enough shelter space, those folks will likely just move to the next available space nearby, or sometimes even return to the same space, which would then start that process over. More about what the City is doing/has done can be found by clicking through this Be Heard page.

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    What is the plan to ensure homeless are not camping in public parks? This continues to be an issue and hopefully the camping in public spaces will be reduced. While walking on Burnt Bridge Creek trail we have seen many homeless and have not felt safe walking in this area. Thanks

    Abbie asked 3 months ago

    While camping is allowed on some public property until we have enough shelter space, camping is strictly prohibited in designated parks. If you see camping within an actual park, you should call 311/911 for a more immediate response. You can also report any camps to HART on the MyVancouver app. HART is the City’s outreach team, which works to connect individuals living outdoors with needed services, as well as assess camps for cleanup/sanitation needs.

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    What is being done about the massive homeless camp garbage pile in the median of sr-500 and Anderson. I see the one next to it it caught fire recently. Are we just gonna wait for the next one to burn down the median trees and all? It’s been there for about 6 months now. Where are our tax dollars going?

    J22 asked 3 months ago

    Thank you for your question. The City of Vancouver recently contracted with WSDOT to allow for us to provide outreach services on WSDOT property. Since July, the City’s Homelessness Assistance and Resources Team (HART) has been visiting WSDOT properties to engage with folks living unsheltered, provide housing assessments and connections to shelter or other services, as well as let them know in advance if/when WSDOT will be doing a cleanup or camp removal. Beyond outreach, the City of Vancouver has no jurisdiction or authority over which camps stay or which camps go on WSDOT property. WSDOT has their own process for prioritization and cleanup/ move outs, and if you’d like more information on how they do that, you can reach out to Bill Morrison at MorriBi@wsdot.wa.gov.

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    I had a homeless camp on my property and neighbors alerted me about it. Asked the people to leave since that is what the sheriff's office recommended. Now there is a large amount of trash they left behind as well as large amount of hypodermic needles. Sheriff's office said they do not know who to call or how to dispose of the waste especially the needles. What should I do? Is there someone I can call? Thanks

    carlf asked 5 months ago

    Thank you for your question. If you are located in Clark County, we recommend contacting the Public Health department to see if they have any recommendations. You can also look for a biohazard clean-up company to assist with what is left behind.  

Page last updated: 23 Nov 2022, 07:40 PM