City Commissioner Dan Ryan has unveiled the planned location for a third city-sanctioned homeless village, or "Safe Rest Village," one of six that are expected to be up and running sometime next year.
This third village will be located at 2730 SW Multnomah Blvd, on property shared with a defunct army reserve building. The city purchased the defunct SFC Jerome F. Sears Army Reserve Center from the federal government in 2011, and it's since served as a temporary homeless shelter, a location for Portland Fire & Rescue trainings, and a disaster preparedness center. Now, the building will share its property with up to 60 outdoor sleeping pods for unsheltered Portlanders.
A press release from Ryan's office describes the lot as an "ideal location" for a village, as it is close to a grocery store and a frequent bus line. It's not clear if the village has the support of the surrounding neighborhood. In 2016, Multnomah Village neighbors weren't thrilled about then-Mayor Charlie Hales turning the building into a temporary homeless shelter for women. The neighbors' vitriol expressed toward the shelter led to its eventual closure.
Ryan's office appears prepared for pushback.
"The unprecedented City and County investment in houselessness just adopted will support these villages through our comprehensive approach, and our community engagement team will continue working to build relationships between housed and unhoused neighbors," said Ryan in the Monday press release. "It’s time to say Yes In My Backyard.”
Ryan, who oversees the city's housing and homelessness bureaus, first announced his office's plan to open six sanctioned homeless villages in June, as a response to the growing number of homeless encampments across the Portland region. The city defines these Safe Rest Villages as "outdoor shelters—not tents—that provide a place for Portlanders to sleep, provide basic and necessary hygiene, and access to case management and behavioral health services." These villages will be operated by contractors selected by the Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS).
This Multnomah Village property is the first location revealed after Ryan's initial announcement identifying selected locations in September. At the time, the city had secured three locations to turn into outdoor villages. Not long after, however, Ryan's office was forced to scrap one of its locations after neighbors pointed out the property was in a flood zone.
The other two locations—one on SW Naito, just north of where Naito crosses I-405, the other a parking lot on the corner of E Burnside and 122nd Ave—are still on track to become villages. The timeline for when these villages will open remains mercurial. Ryan first said the first three villages would open by the end of 2021. Now, it appears, that deadline has faded.
"We do not have a firm date for opening the villages," said Bryan Aptekar, a spokesperson for Ryan's office. "Our small team is working hard to get sites selected for our remaining villages. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes."
It's not clear when Ryan will announce the locations for the remaining three villages.