PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Community members are sounding off about proposed locations for two Safe Rest Villages in Southwest Portland during Downtown Neighborhood Association meetings.
Neighbors said the Sears Armory site was announced a couple weeks ago, which came as an unpleasant surprise for many residents and parents who send their children to a nearby school.
In the meantime, those who live or send their children to a school near the proposed Southwest Naito site are also trying to get more answers from the city.
Some are in favor of having the Safe Rest Villages at those locations, however many more are against it. For both groups, one of the main concerns coming from residents near both sites is the prevention of camping outside of the villages and the problems that brings.
“Our number one concern is obviously child safety of the hundreds of 5 to 14 years old kids that are going to be at the school,” said a West Hills parent.
Parents from West Hills Christian School are worried about the Safe Rest Village proposed near the Sears Armory Site which sits adjacent to the school.
“Drug use, needles, other garbage, human excrement, vandalism and other crimes. As parents you know, we are very concerned about the city’s choice to again, help one vulnerable group, only to endanger another,” a parent explained.
One of the main concerns is what will happen outside the boundaries. Both the Multnomah Neighborhood Association and the Downtown Neighborhood Association discussed that during meetings this week.
“Those tent camps come with an increase in crime, break-ins, theft, drug use, dealing, loitering, fires all that would present a concern for student safety,” one West Hills parent said.
There were some people who spoke in favor of the proposed sites.
“I want to express a voice of support from the program. My family moved here from Idaho to Portland in 1959, and one thing we learned is that Portlanders help each other,” said area resident Rick Patrick.
“I’m another voice of support, for this proposal. We are in a state of emergency around houselessness,” said Ruth Adkins.
The Downtown Neighborhood Association is hoping to get more answers and solutions by working with the city.
“The perimeter camping is our biggest issue, we are talking about that,” Darlene Urban Garrett of Downtown Neighborhood Association Homeless Study Committee said.
Another member of the Downtown Neighborhood Association Homeless Study Committee, David Dickson explained “If we can develop a collaborative model, it could be a model for the entire city.”
Residents and parents from schools near both locations want to know who will get referred to stay at these Safe Rest Villages, or if there will be screening.
There are concerns about criminals or sex offenders potentially living close to schools. Urban Garrett said the Downtown Neighborhood Association is currently working to try to figure that piece out.