PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The 2300 SW Naito Stakeholder Group announced Friday it would be withdrawing its support for the Safe Rest Village that’s planned to go in near two schools in the area.

Association leaders are concerned the City of Portland and Multnomah County are not meeting safety requirements. With the village going in near the International School of Portland and Bridges Middle School, school officials said those precautions will help protect children nearby.

The full press conference can be viewed at the bottom of the article.

“We saw the village as an opportunity to build a truly welcoming community that worked together in support of each other,” Head of the International School of Portland Bodo Heiliger said. He later noted the community’s concerns lie with the city — not All Good NW, the shelter operator for the villages.

According to the group, officials have failed to implement low-barrier safety requirements like screening potential residents for felony crimes against a person, sex crimes and felony property crimes.

When the community was first informed a Safe Rest Village would be added to their area, city leaders supposedly told them background checks would be required. However, Heiliger said this and some other low-barrier requests were denied two days ago.

Beven Byrnes, the principal and executive director of Bridges Middle School, said the school was able to get parents, guardians and staff support on the village by ensuring these background checks would be required.

Along with that, the city also denied the community’s request for a minimum 1,000-foot buffer zone between the village and the school that would be free of camping, drug use and other criminal activity.

14 other neighborhood associations are reportedly asking for the same safety requirements as Byrnes said many are concerned the villages will draw in camping, drug use, potentially predatory drug dealers and additional trash.

In late September, Portland City Commissioner Dan Ryan first announced a sanctioned homeless camp would be going in, which is just one of 3 Safe Rest Villages throughout the city. Shortly after Ryan’s announcement, residents and business owners said they had “mixed feelings” about this village.

Ryan’s office released a statement in response to the decision on Friday afternoon, calling it disappointing.

“As an openly gay man since the early ’80s and a 40-year long-term survivor of HIV, I am deeply
disappointed with such unnecessary fear,” he said. “The SW Naito site is the new location for the Queer Affinity Village (relocating from SE Water Ave), which prioritizes LGBTQIA+ Portlanders experiencing homelessness — some of the most marginalized and vulnerable people living on our streets.”

Ryan also refuted the claims that the Safe Rest Village Team has been unresponsive. He stated there have been at least a dozen meetings with Byrnes and Heiliger.

“My office is happy to provide additional public records related to our consistent communications with the 2300 SW Naito Stakeholder Group,” Ryan said.

Ryan also says the Naito group gave a list of requests months ago that his team has worked hard to meet. He addresses their concerns and “corrects misconceptions” in his full statement, which you can read here.