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 partnership with Outsider’s Inn.

Sanitation Sites

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

Talkin’ Trash

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

HART

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

Camp Cleanups

Seven cleanups conducted since March 2020, resulting in more than 48 tons of solid waste removed. Residents also receive support service referrals.

Safe Park Zone

A safe location for people living in their vehicles to park during the pandemic. The site currently hosts 44 vehicles serving 70 adults and 10 children.

What’s Next?

The plan 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 Park Locations

Locate other properties or partner with other entities for additional 24/7 Safe Park capacity (for residents living in cars or RVs).

Establish Supported Campsites

Supported campsites to ensure clean, safe and healthy conditions for housed and unhoused:

  • Limit to 20 tents or camps per site.
  • Contract with nonprofit(s) to host and support camps.
  • Provide fencing, sanitation and garbage services.
  • Community based services can be provided on site.

We Need Your Ideas!

  • 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.

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 partnership with Outsider’s Inn.

Sanitation Sites

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

Talkin’ Trash

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

HART

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

Camp Cleanups

Seven cleanups conducted since March 2020, resulting in more than 48 tons of solid waste removed. Residents also receive support service referrals.

Safe Park Zone

A safe location for people living in their vehicles to park during the pandemic. The site currently hosts 44 vehicles serving 70 adults and 10 children.

What’s Next?

The plan 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 Park Locations

Locate other properties or partner with other entities for additional 24/7 Safe Park capacity (for residents living in cars or RVs).

Establish Supported Campsites

Supported campsites to ensure clean, safe and healthy conditions for housed and unhoused:

  • Limit to 20 tents or camps per site.
  • Contract with nonprofit(s) to host and support camps.
  • Provide fencing, sanitation and garbage services.
  • Community based services can be provided on site.

We Need Your Ideas!

  • 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.

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 subscribed to your newsletter because my husband and I are considering moving to Vancouver. I am happy to hear that you are taking first steps to try to manage the homeless issue in your city. I hope these ideas work. My concern is for the mentally ill. Are there mental hospitals they can be taken to get help and be safe from themselves and from harming others? The hotel idea is excellent! I have heard that other cities use closed up hotels or any unused buildings to hold the homeless with the help of non-profits / churches, etc. We both like Vancouver and don't want to see it be overcome by this issue like Portland and Seattle have. Very sad. My heart goes out to the homeless but it needs to be managed.

    Katybugs asked 17 days ago

    Thank you for your comments and questions. We’re working very hard to balance the needs of the entire community—housed and unhoused—which is certainly not easy or simple. 

    There are mental/behavioral health facilities and community-based mental health response teams to assist folks experiencing mental health challenges in Clark County. Additionally, if there are no available mental/behavioral health beds within Clark County, a bed somewhere else in the state can typically be located, and an individual can be transported to that facility if needed. However, it should be noted that these are not City-funded services or facilities. Clark County is the primary funder for these services. You can learn more about what is available on the Clark County Community Services Department's website at https://clark.wa.gov/community-services.  

    We also loved the hotel as shelter idea, and were happy to contribute funding to help purchase the property. Our community has a significant shortage of shelter space, and we will continue to look for ways to assist with adding shelter capacity in our community. Thank you again for reaching out to us with your questions and concerns, and please feel free to continue contributing questions, concerns and ideas!

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    Hello. I've read about the conversion of the Howard Johnson hotel by VanMall into a bridge shelter. What amenities and services will be available for each person? What criteria must be met if you are given a room and what is the proposed length of stay? Thanks!

    DogMom asked 17 days ago

    The City of Vancouver contributed funding to help purchase the old Howard Johnson hotel at 9201 N.E. Vancouver Mall Drive, but development and operations of the Bertha Baugh Place is being managed by Clark County's Community Services Department in partnership with the Vancouver Housing Authority, not by the City.

    Clark County has hired Catholic Community Services to operate the shelter, but building renovations are still underway and the shelter has not opened yet.

    Here are links to the two most recent news releases sent out about the project:

    Jan. 25, 2021: VHA to purchase Howard Johnson for non-congregate shelter

    March 3, 2021: Catholic Community Services of Western Washington selected to operate non-congregate shelter in Vancouver

    You can contact the county's Housing Preservation Manager Michael Torres with questions about Bertha Baugh Place at 564-397-7801 or Michael.torres@clark.wa.gov

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    Last night I noticed 3 over loaded vehicles parked at the side of the road, across from the Fred Meyer at SE 164th. I there a phone number or email address I can report this to? Thank you.

    Inquiry asked about 2 months ago

    It depends on what your specific concern is with the vehicles. If the vehicles are parked illegally in a fire lane or in a no-parking zone, or they are blocking a driveway, you can call our non-emergency dispatch line, 3-1-1, to report it to our parking enforcement staff.

    But if the vehicles are parked in a legal public parking area (on-street or in a public parking lot), please do not report it. What they're doing is not against the law.

    If you're concerned that the vehicles are overloaded and present a danger to other motorists while they're being driven, you can call 9-1-1 to report it.

    If you're concerned that there are homeless people living in the vehicles and want someone to help them, you can contact the City's Homeless Assistance and Resources Team (HART) to request assistance by email at hartteam@cityofvancouver.us or leave a voicemail for them at 360-487-8626.

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    Where will these fenced camps be located, and what will you do to ensure the safety of the residents in those areas? What measures will you take to ensure that crime doesn't go up around those encampments?

    Michelle Winton asked 4 months ago

    The City is still in the process of developing its supportive campsite pilot program, so we cannot answer your questions yet. We will be hiring a vendor to operate the supportive campsites and are currently working with Vancouver City Council to determine siting criteria and locations. Updates will be posted to the Latest News section of this webpage, so we recommend you keep checking back or subscribe to the City's monthly email newsletter, Vancouver Connects, to get the latest information.

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    Is the homeless camp south of the Clark County YMCA and behind Applebee’s off 112th an example of your plan for the homeless? If so, it does not work! Everyday the trash piles higher and the site becomes more and more like a dump site. It is an embarrassment to the city and certainly not sanitary for those living there or for us who live or work nearby!!

    LK asked 30 days ago

    No, that is not one of the City's supportive campsites. However, the City's Homeless Assistance and Resources Team (HART) and our local non-profit service providers are aware of this camp and have reached out to the residents to try and help connect them with services. 

    The City is still working on developing its supportive campsite program. We will be hiring a hire a vendor to operate the camps and are currently working with City Council to determine the supportive campsite siting criteria and locations.

    You can stay up to date on the progress of the City's Homelessness Response Plan and the associated supportive campsites by subscribing to the email list linked at the top of the right sidebar on our Homelessness Response Plan page on Be Heard Vancouver, or by subscribing to the City's monthly email newsletter, Vancouver Connects. We also regularly post updates to the Latest News section on our Be Heard Vancouver page.

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    What are the proposed or approved homeless locations? I have to move to Vancouver soon for health and family reasons. Living near such locations is not an option.

    Gma1954 asked 2 months ago

    The City has not selected the locations for the supportive campsites, so we can't answer your question yet. We will be hiring a vendor to operate the camps and are still working with City Council to determine the siting criteria and locations. We recommend that you subscribe to the email list for this page (use the "Stay Informed" link at the top of right sidebar on this page) or subscribe to the City's monthly email newsletter, Vancouver Connects, to get updates about this plan.

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    Is there a contact to notify the city about unsupported campsites? There is a campsite near the North end of Orchards West park that seems to continue to grow in size and trash.

    ScottS3656 asked 3 months ago

    Yes, you can use the free MyVancouver mobile and desktop application to report an active or abandoned camp to the City's Homeless Assistance & Resources Team (HART). Visit this webpage to use the desktop version of MyVancouver or download the free mobile app: https://www.cityofvancouver.us/community/page/myvancouver

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    How is the city going to clean up Marshall Community Park. It is the largest park in Vancouver and surrounding areas such as Camas and Battleground, and that is the reason I take my son there because it is the biggest park; However over the last year, several times going into the restrooms there is almost always at least 1 needle if not more. At one point I called the city public works department to report 14 needles in one bathroom alone! This is a place primarily for young children and there is not clean facility's for the CHILDREN to use due to the encamps on the edge of the park. Additionally there have been men walking around the park coming off of a high, acting erratic, one of which was rubbing his gentiles aggressively while watching my children play at the park. The violence, garbage including shattered bottles, and additictions need to removed from the area that is suppose to safely serve the innocent children of Vancouver.

    Concerned Parent asked 4 months ago

    The City's Public Works Department's Grounds maintenance crews currently visit Marshall Park on a regular basis. In addition, Share's Talkin' Trash crews also visit many city parks every week to remove litter, including needles. 

    You can report immediate maintenance needs between their visits by filling out an online service request on this webpage: https://www.cityofvancouver.us/publicworks/webform/service-requests-public-works. Just check the "Grounds and Cemeteries" in the list and fill in the rest of the form. Or you can call the urgent request phone line also listed on this webpage. 

    If you see people in the park doing drugs, behaving in the way you describe in question, or otherwise breaking the law, you can call 9-1-1 to report something that is actively happening or call 3-1-1 to report something after the fact (after the person has left or the behaviors have stopped).

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    I am a care Coordinator with Sea Mar CHC. I am interested in helping with the homeless population crisis in any way possible. How does one become part of the planning committee? Is the a community-based advisory board or something of that nature? I would like to be a part of the solution.

    Kimberly Maurer asked about 1 month ago

    Thank you very much! Please contact our Homeless Response Coordinator Jamie Spinelli directly to find out how you might be able to help with the City's Homelessness Response Plan. Her contact information is in the right sidebar of the main Homelessness Response Plan page in the right sidebar under "Who's Listening." 

    Here locally, the Council for the Homeless and Share are always looking for volunteers to serve in a variety of capacities related to homelessness prevention and other services. Use the links below to find out more and apply to volunteer.

    Council for the Homeless: https://www.councilforthehomeless.org/volunteer/
    Share: https://sharevancouver.org/volunteer/

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    Where are the proposed locations of the small camps? What is the criteria?Will they equitably distributed throughout the city? What is the minimum distance they will be located from single-family homes? Will the service providers And their residents be held accountable for meeting basic good neighbor agreements? Well the good neighbor agreements be enforceable? Will the service provider and the residents be held accountable for delivering on specific levels of conduct, accountability, services, and compliance to help support residents' transition to self-sufficiency, and if so, how will that be audited? If they fall short what will be the consequences? Will anyone be contacting me to provide the answers? Will your answers be posted somewhere? Thank you so much for your support and the opportunity to comment.

    Lily5259! asked 4 months ago

    The City of Vancouver is still in the process of developing its supportive campsites program, so we don't have answers to your questions yet. We will be hiring a vendor that will manage the sites and are currently working with City Council to determine siting criteria and other details. We recommend you follow the newsfeed on this page and subscribe to the City's monthly email newsletter, Vancouver Connects, to get the latest information.