Homelessness Response Plan

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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.

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.
  • City of Vancouver opens first Safe Stay Community

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    Vancouver, Washington – 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.

    The Safe Stay Community, 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 here), provides 20 modular Pallet shelters housing up to 40 people. The Safe Stay Community program is the direct result of a galvanized vision at the City to create an effective path for those seeking a permanent way to get off the streets.

    “Many at the City of Vancouver have been diligently working towards this achievement for most of the year, so to finally see it come together gives me reason to smile,” City Manager Eric Holmes said. “I am grateful to the Mayor and City Council for understanding and embracing the urgency to address homelessness. The Safe Stay Community is making a world of difference to those who moved into the shelters just before Christmas, offering them renewed hope and opportunity in 2022.”

    For the safety and security of Safe Stay Community residents, the site is fenced and staffed 24/7 by nonprofit operator Outsiders Inn. In addition to the security measures, the site includes trash receptacles, sanitation services, portable toilets and handwashing stations, meeting and office spaces and access to supportive services provided by local agencies.

    “This Safe Stay Community is helping address immediate humanitarian needs and the urgent safety, livability, social justice and public health concerns resulting from the homelessness crisis,” Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said. “It’s also the result of the impassioned work of many at the City who care deeply about addressing homelessness.”

    The City of Vancouver plans to open two more Safe Stay Communities before next summer, equitably distributed around the City following the site selection criteria approved by City Council.

    “Safe Stay Communities are not a long-term solution to ending homelessness, but they’re an immediate, compassionate alternative for people living on our streets so they can move toward living indoors again,” Holmes said.

  • Watch: Community Information Sessions on First Safe Stay Community on Northeast 51st Circle

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    Community Information Session #1: Nov. 30, 2021


    Community Information Session #2: Dec. 1, 2021


  • Watch: Pallet Shelter Tour

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    Get a sneak peek at the prefabricated Pallet Shelters that will be used at the City's Safe Stay Communities.


  • City Announces Location of First Supportive Safe Stay Community for People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness

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    The City of Vancouver’s first supportive Safe Stay Community for people experiencing unsheltered homelessness will be located at 11400 N.E. 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 N.E. 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 N.E. 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.

  • Vancouver City Council awards contract to first supportive campsite service provider

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    Vancouver, Washington – 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.

  • City Leads New Litter Cleanup Activities Along Highway Ramps

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    Backed by a new state law and grant funding, the City of Vancouver is working with state of Washington and Clark County agencies to help address litter along key highway ramps.

  • City Council to Consider Supportive Campsite Operator Contract on Sept. 27

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    A contract with a local non-profit, Outsiders Inn, for the operation of City-sanctioned supportive campsites will be brought to Vancouver City Council for authorization at their regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 27.

    The meeting is being held remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but can be viewed live at www.cvtv.org or on the City's Facebook (www.facebook.com/VancouverUS). People can also call in to listen to the meeting by telephone. Instructions for calling in are available on the meeting agenda.

    Public comments about the items on the agenda will be accepted either in writing in advance of the meeting or live via remote testimony. Instructions for how to provide comments using either method are available on the meeting agenda.

    View the Sept. 27 City Council meeting agenda.

  • City Council Advances Supportive Campsites Ordinance to Address Homelessness

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    Following a public hearing Monday, Sept. 20, on the subject of implementing supportive campsites, City Council approved an ordinance that amends the City’s camping code. The approved revisions to Chapter 8.22 of the Vancouver Municipal Code are necessary to implement the supportive campsites pilot program which is one component of the City’s Homelessness Response Plan. The ordinance also defines the criteria that will be used to identify potential locations on public land for the campsites.

    Though the amended ordinance is effective 30 days from its approval date, the opening of the first campsite is anticipated to take place some time after that 30-day period. The City must first take up the process of identifying a campsite operator and awarding a service contract. Identification of a location for the first site must also take place.

    The goal remains to open three campsites by the end of the year. Managed 24/7 by nonprofit on-site operators, the sites will have screening or fencing, provide sanitation and hygiene services, and have limited health services on site. It’s currently anticipated that the temporary program will facilitate up to three campsites this year, providing support to approximately one-quarter of the estimated unsheltered population in Vancouver. The 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.

  • Supportive Campsites Ordinance Advances to Public Hearing Sept. 20

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    On Monday, Sept. 13, City Council voted 6-1 to amend Section 8.22.070.B.2(b) of the City’s camping code, moving both ordinance options forward to a public hearing and second reading on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021.

    Revisions to Chapter 8.22 of the Vancouver Municipal Code related to camping are necessary to implement the supportive campsites component of the City's Homelessness Response Plan.

    Community members who want to share feedback on the ordinance options can register here: https://www.cityofvancouver.us/citycouncil/webform/register-provide-council-meeting-testimony.

    >> Read the full staff report about the proposed ordinance changes.

    Monday's City Council meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. This meeting is not open to in-person attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Councilmembers and City staff will attend remotely.

    Community members can watch the workshops and meetings live on Clark/Vancouver Television Comcast cable channels 23/323, online at www.cvtv.org or on the City’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/VancouverUS. The public can also listen to the meeting by telephone by calling 1-877-309-2073 and entering access code 169-338-917 when prompted (credentials unique to this meeting).

    City Council is accepting public comments about the items on its consent and public hearing agendas. Comments can be submitted in writing in advance of the meeting or live via a remote video conferencing platform during the meeting (advance registration required). Instructions for providing comments remotely are included in the meeting agenda.

  • Supportive Campsites Ordinance Goes to City Council Sept. 13

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    City staff will present proposed revisions to the City's camping ordnance to Vancouver City Council for action during its regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 13.

    Revisions to Chapter 8.22 of the Vancouver Municipal Code related to camping are necessary to implement the supportive campsites component of the City's Homelessness Response Plan.

    >> Read the full staff report about the proposed ordinance changes.

    Monday's City Council meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. This meeting is not open to in-person attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Councilmembers and City staff will attend remotely.

    Community members can watch the workshops and meetings live on Clark/Vancouver Television Comcast cable channels 23/323, online at www.cvtv.org or on the City’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/VancouverUS. The public can also listen to the meeting by telephone by calling 1-866-899-4679 and entering access code 717-796-941 when prompted.

    City Council is accepting public comments about the items on its consent and public hearing agendas. Comments can be submitted in writing in advance of the meeting or live via a remote video conferencing platform during the meeting (advance registration required). Instructions for providing comments remotely are included in the meeting agenda.

Page last updated: 05 January 2022, 15:39