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News / Clark County News

Vancouver’s 4th Safe Stay Community proposed for upper Main Street, near Kiggins Bowl

City will seek public input on potential site

By Mia Ryder-Marks, Columbian staff reporter
Published: May 24, 2023, 3:30pm

Vancouver city officials announced Wednesday that they will be seeking public input on the city’s proposed fourth Safe Stay site at 4611 Main St., in the Lincoln neighborhood.

The suggested property — which sits just north of the Kiggins Bowl and near Discovery Middle School — is owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation, which will lease a portion of the 18,750-square-foot lot to the city.

Similar to the other three Safe Stay communities, the location will include 20 modular pallet shelters that can house up to 40 people.

Washington State Department of Transportation officials “have been trying to figure out a way to solve the problem of camps on (their properties) when they are not service providers, because they don’t have the ability to connect people with services,” said Jamie Spinelli, homeless response coordinator for the city of Vancouver. “This is one way that they can contribute to the solution.”

The proposed location meets the criteria that the city established when first planning for the Safe Stay communities. The city aims to target publicly owned land that allows each Safe Stay to be equitably spaced across Vancouver, no more than half a mile away from public transportation.

“I’m also excited about the (proposed) property because it’s surrounded by trees, which is not true on the other existing sites,” Spinelli said. “People have their individual shelters, but when they’re out in the communal spaces, they are under the sun. So it will be nice to have the canopy.”

If approved, the site will be staffed and overseen by nonprofit operator Do Good Multnomah, which provides permanent housing and shelter for people experiencing homelessness in Portland.

“Their service-delivery philosophy is very much in alignment with what we are doing here currently and what we are looking to continue,” Spinelli said. “I’m very excited that we have a new service provider coming into the community.”

The proposed Safe Stay will include trash receptacles, sanitation services, portable toilets, communal spaces and access to local services designed for the houseless. Like the other Safe Stay communities, the property will have a 1,000-foot no-camping rule.

Vancouver has already sited three Safe Stay communities: The Outpost in the North Image neighborhoods, Hope Village in the Fourth Plain corridor and a third downtown site that was approved but is still awaiting construction this summer.

According to reports published by the city, since opening, The Outpost and Hope Village have provided residents permanent housing, employment, and connections to mental health and substance-use services. The reports also highlighted that crime has fallen in the surrounding neighborhoods since the pallet shelter communities opened.

City officials stressed that a decision has not been made to turn the Main Street property into a Safe Stay, as it must go through a community engagement process.

How to provide feedback

The city will also host two community information sessions, inviting attendees to ask questions and learn more about the proposed site.

An online session will take place from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. To register, visit cityofvancouver.us/cis.

An in-person session is set for 7 to 9 p.m. June 5 at Discovery Middle School Commons, 800 E. 40th St., Vancouver. RSVP to kerry.peck@cityofvancouver.us.

The Safe Stay community could open as early as this fall after public input and final approval.

To learn more about Vancouver’s homelessness response and register for email updates, visit www.beheardvancouver.org/homelessness-response.

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.