PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The rollout of Portland’s Safe Rest Village program has been underwhelming with those shelters slow to stand up in the three years of the program.

On Wednesday, the city council started considering solutions to make that program more effective in providing shelter for people who are homeless.

The biggest change is opening more space in the city for these Safe Rest Villages or other outdoor shelters and commissioners voted to make zoning changes to allow it.

The amendment from the city council changes the distance a Safe Rest Village or outdoor shelter can be to industrial or residential land, noting that the current regulations make it challenging to find locations for small outdoor shelters like the Safe Rest Villages.

The mayor’s office told KOIN 6 that this is not directly related to his plans for sanctioned campsites, the focus is on small shelters.

Those are the kinds of facilities the organization All Good Northwest operates. Their director thinks this is a good step to helping more people off the street.

“Any time we have additional shelter spaces in my mind it’s a good thing, said Andy Goebel, All Good Northwest Executive Director. “People don’t want to be in a tent when they have an opportunity to be in a safer space that is secure where there are services provided, that’s hugely beneficial for folks living on the street.”

Goebel said this move is a step for more people to find permanent housing.

“They have an opportunity to be in a safer space that is secure, where there are services provided,” said Goebel. “That’s hugely beneficial to folks who are living on the streets.”

The safe rest village program has struggled with just two outdoor shelters open so far.

Commissioner Dan Ryan has led the program and said operators have hit roadblocks with the city’s zoning as it stands right now. Specifically, a 25-foot setback in residential areas that’s now been reduced to five feet.

“These changes we are making are really a big deal, especially the 25 to 5 feet I can’t tell you how many times that made making the design nearly impossible,” said Ryan.

Now more areas will be open to outdoor shelters and it creates consistent standards for how those shelters operate. The shelters opened under an emergency declaration which Portland has been under since 2015.

The current emergency is set to expire in 2025.

The changes made Wednesday create standards for how outdoor shelters can operate now and after the emergency, like how tall structures can be in a shelter, where they are located and how RV’s and group living situations are handled on the sites.

The commissioners agree the changes will create more shelter options in the city.