Safe parking site for unhoused people coming to Portland’s Montavilla neighborhood
Oregon Live – March 15, 2023
A safe parking site that will allow unhoused people to sleep in their vehicles is slated to open in Portland’s Montavilla neighborhood this year.
The site at 333 S.E. 82nd Ave., formerly an RV dealership, will allow passenger vehicles but not RVs. The outdoor shelter will provide on-site services 24 hours a day including showers, bathrooms, laundry, a shared kitchenette, trash pick-up and caseworkers who will connect people to housing opportunities, behavioral health care and other supportive resources.
The parking site will be fenced with room for 30 vehicles and will only be available through reservations. The capacity will be around 35 people, allowing some vehicles spots for couples.
The project is part of the shelter expansion led by the joint city-county Office of Homeless Services. Since 2020, the joint office has opened 17 new shelters including alternative models like tiny home villages and motel shelters. This site will be funded by the Metro Supportive Housing Services tax revenue. The site will be one of two similar alternative shelters planned along 82nd Avenue within less than a mile of each other. The second site, also a joint office project, will be located at 1818 S.E. 82nd Ave.
Construction work at the 333 S.E. 82nd Ave. site still needs to be completed. An exact opening date has yet to be announced.
In total, 5,228 people are experiencing homelessness in Multnomah County, according to a January 2022 one-night count. Of those, 3,057 were unsheltered living in tents, sleeping bags or vehicles, 1,485 were in emergency shelter and 686 were in transitional housing.
Straightway Services, a Northeast Portland organization that provides supportive services to families, will manage the site that will be called The Light Community. The organization focuses on serving Black communities. While anyone will be welcomed at the site, the staff will bring with it knowledge to meet the needs of Black, Indigenous, other people of color and historically underserved populations.
The organization has helped people who live in vehicles, according to the joint office.
Straightway Services, led by Pastor Dwight Minnieweather, currently provides food, hygiene supplies, addiction services, workforce development and support groups. According to the joint office press release, Minnieweather recognized that a safe park village would be more accessible to many unhoused individuals than a congregate shelter.
“This will give them a location to stay and pull the cars off the road. And we’ll make it a community with educational opportunities, employment opportunities and connection to peer mentors,” Minnieweather said in a statement. “This will be more than just a place to sleep. It will be a holistic community where people can become self-sufficient.”
A town hall to learn more about the project is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Eastside Church of Christ, 9030 E. Burnside St., Portland.
Nicole Hayden reports on homelessness for The Oregonian/OregonLive. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Nicole_A_Hayden.