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Jan. 21, 2022

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Vancouver City Council approves $402K for modular shelters for homeless

By , Columbian staff writer
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5 Photos
Michael Iverson, a resident of Vancouver's first Stay Safe Community, looks over an empty unit in December.  Outsider's Inn, a Vancouver-based nonprofit, operates the site and connects its residents to resources that can help them transition into permanent housing.
Michael Iverson, a resident of Vancouver's first Stay Safe Community, looks over an empty unit in December. Outsider's Inn, a Vancouver-based nonprofit, operates the site and connects its residents to resources that can help them transition into permanent housing. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The Vancouver City Council unanimously approved the purchase of $402,105 worth of modular shelters Monday to prepare for two future Safe Stay Community sites.

Vancouver uses cooperative purchasing to acquire shelters from the city of Salem, Ore.’s contract with the manufacturer, Pallet ShelterThe manufacturer told staff that its unit prices would increase in 2022, but the city could lock in the prices if they were ordered earlier in the year. The costs for the additional sites will be funded by Vancouver’s affordable housing sales tax.

“The Pallet Shelter company is very busy, and we need to get in line so we can receive shelters in the future,” Mayor Pro Tem Ty Stober said.

An itemized total of the purchase can be found in a staff report, which can be accessed through the city council’s agenda list.

Aaron Lande, Vancouver’s policy and program manager, said the contract price only includes housing and office spaces, but city staff are seeking ways to integrate showering centers into the spaces. Plumbing additions are expensive, he said, so it will be considered more in the future.

Each site is comprised of an office, hygiene facilities, and 20 modular shelters that contain two bunks and an electric heater. People living in the community can access resources to help them transition out of homelessness, and they can find camaraderie with their neighbors.

The future sites will be replicative of Vancouver’s first Safe Stay Community site at 11400 N.E. 51st Circle. The site opened Dec. 23, 2021, and is operated by Outsider’s Inn, a Vancouver-based nonprofit.

Glen Yung of Vancouver said Vancouver’s approach to mitigating homelessness is admirable when comparing it with other cities’ tactics. The Safe Stay Communities maintain the empowerment of their residents while respecting nearby neighborhoods.

“The important thing about these shelters is they are creating a place that is a stable environment where people are able to begin addressing the issues that led to their homelessness,” he said during a community forum.

Future dates and locations for additional Safe Stay Communities have not been determined.

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