PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Gavin Bramley lives about 800 feet from a proposed sanctioned campsite between Southeast Gideon and Powell in Portland. He thinks sanctioned sites will provide security for the homeless, but he disagrees with placing it directly between 2 neighborhoods along a safe route to school.

The city is moving forward with plans for 6 large sanctioned campsites, the first being slated for Southeast Portland with a goal of opening this summer. The sites are part of an effort to ban unsanctioned camping throughout the city by next year.

Bramley attended several online hour-long community meetings with Mayor Ted Wheeler.

“What are they going to do to ensure that the Brooklyn and Hosford-Abernethy neighborhoods are still going to be well taken care of?” he said. “We want to make sure that this works.”

The city also needs to gain his trust. “When the city says we’ll work with you, I’ve got no faith in that,” he told KOIN 6 News.

Urban Alchemy, a California-based non-profit, has been chosen to manage the campsite. Kirkpatrick Tyler, the chief of governmental and Community Affairs for Urban Alchemy, said their “first step is to create a safe space.”

They run sites like this in California and Texas — and soon in Portland.

“We have been really great at getting residents to transition from Safe Sleeps and other interim housing interventions into permanent housing,” Tyler said.

But their success rate is only as good as the available affordable housing, he said.

“The big question to the mayor,” Bramley said, “was are there going to be guaranteed affordable units available for these individuals at the end of the 3-year period? He said ‘No, I can’t guarantee that.'”

Gavin Bramley stands with KOIN 6 News reporter Elise Haas outside a proposed sanctioned campsite in Southeast Portland, April 3, 2023 (KOIN)
Gavin Bramley stands with KOIN 6 News reporter Elise Haas outside a proposed sanctioned campsite in Southeast Portland, April 3, 2023 (KOIN)

Urban Alchemy wants to partner with the community on what this site can look like.

Neighbors would appreciate some incentives, like “beautifying the neighborhood, plant some trees in here,” Bramley said. “That would go a long way.”

Ultimately, Bramley said, the neighborhoods want to feel like they have a seat at the table.

“That’s something where we expect honesty, we expect transparency,” he said. “And we’re not getting that.”

With open communication and collaboration with the city, Bramley hopes his Brooklyn neighborhood can have brighter days ahead.

KOIN 6 News asked Mayor Wheeler’s office about their thoughts on possible incentives, such as tax breaks for the neighborhoods absorbing the camp. In a statement, the mayor’s office said:

“Taxes aren’t controlled by the City but we welcome all ideas and feedback as we develop agreements with the neighborhood in the coming weeks. Again, this is just the beginning of the conversation and we look forward to continuing to engage with residents and business owners near the site to ensure this is a community-centered process.”