PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — What’s usually a busy shopping center is now vacant due to stay at home orders and closures amid the pandemic.
But, the Vancouver Mall and the City of Vancouver are looking at this as a different opportunity to help.
“With the current orders to shelter in place it’s particularly difficult for people who don’t have stable, permanent housing,” said Dave Perlick, City of Vancouver Recreation Manager.
The Vancouver Mall is turning their empty parking lot into a safe parking zone for people living in vehicles during the COVID-19 crisis.
“You know there were some tears in the first car, thankful to have someplace safe to be,” said Perlick. “So, that’s really what it’s all about.”
Perlick said this is an extra effort to help with social distancing and staying healthy.
“It’s been a hard time for all of us — certainly when you have housing insecurity,” he said. “It’s another level of unknown.”
The first come, first serve safe parking zone can fit 40 vehicles — including two RVs. All vehicles must be operational and legally licensed. Only 2 adults per vehicle are allowed, but children under 18 are allowed with an adult present.
The safe parking zone has portable restrooms, hand washing stations and a garbage service, along with 24-hour security. Participants must sign a code of conduct to agree to follow the “stay home, stay healthy” protocols.
Trips away from the safe parking zone are limited to things like food and medicine.
“We don’t want a lot of coming and going, that doesn’t meet the need of minimizing social interaction,” said Dave Perlick, City of Vancouver Recreation Manager. “This is intended for people to come and stay and only leave to access essential services.”
Participants can still register in person from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday at the safe parking zone location. Additional registration hours may be added depending on availability.