Vancouver is considering a “bridge shelter” for some of its homeless population. Additional “bridge shelters” should be built as part of the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program.
The I-5 Bridge replacement presents an opportunity with regard to homeless campers along the Washington and Oregon departments of transportation rights of way. During the construction period, most or all of these people will be displaced.
State and federal law provide mechanisms for responding to people displaced as a result of public works projects, but technically may not cover homeless campers. However, they provide good frameworks for how Oregon and Washington can deal with displacement that will be caused by bridge replacement construction.
We should be planning now to deal with this problem using relocation statutes as a model. Some transportation land in each state can be made available to build supported housing complexes. From the billions of dollars that will be spent on the bridge, a percentage should be set aside for relocation services and supported housing for people who will be displaced.
In conjunction with Vancouver’s recently enacted emergency declaration, civic leaders should develop solutions to homeless displacement from the plan. Otherwise, our homeless issues will continue and become worse. There are solutions out there.