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Portland’s first Safe Rest Village opens next week, and some neighbors are concerned

The village is scheduled to open in Southwest Portland's Multnomah Village by the end of next week.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland’s first Safe Rest Village is planned to open in Multnomah Village at the Sears Armory next week.

On Thursday, construction crews put the finishing touches on the 30 tiny homes in Southwest Portland, and volunteers from “Friends of Multnomah Village” dropped off supplies for those who will move in next week.

“We're so excited to be able to offer this opportunity to serve folks and to house folks,” said Andy Goebel, executive director for All Good Northwest, the nonprofit managing the village.

This village is the first of six the city has planned. They are organized camps meant to help houseless people transition into permanent homes.

“It's super exciting that something that's been a long time in the planning a lot of conversation and lot of mental physical emotional energy has gone into creating this amazing resource and opportunity for folks who are experiencing houselessness,” said Goebel.

RELATED: ‘It simply became too unsafe’: Old Town homeless village closing this month after increased gun violence downtown

The village is a low-barrier shelter, meaning adults can move in with their family and pets and they don't have to pass a background check or be sober.

“Low barrier doesn't mean no rules,” said Chariti Montez, the Safe Rest Village houselessness strategies manager. “It's a low barrier to entry but everyone who comes to a village is agreeing to be a participant in the shelter. There's a code of conduct, weapons and drugs are not allowed.”

People who live nearby told KGW they are concerned the village will attract crime, drug use and homeless camps.

“With so many children in the neighborhood and the elementary school, we're worried about things like needles being improperly disposed of. We're worried about an influx of crime, specifically violent crime,” said Kylie, who lives nearby with her husband and toddler.

“I'm a little nervous,” added Sophie Yarboroudh, who’s lived in the neighborhood for 35 years. “There's only two fences between me and it. I’m directly behind there.”

Yarboroudh and other neighbors have asked the city for mandatory background checks on the villagers, and they're frustrated with the lack of communication from the city.

RELATED: Portland's Impact Reduction Team cleans, removes dozens of homeless camps in Old Town

KGW reached out to commissioner Dan Ryan’s office for comment but didn't hear back.

“It's exasperating,” said Martin Waugh, who’s lived in the neighborhood for forty years. “I'd like to have conversation and the conversations just aren't happening. They don't come and talk to us. They don’t want to hear from us.”

“From the beginning, Dan Ryan's office has made this very adversarial and very one-sided relationship. We haven't had a lot of opportunities to give input and we don't feel like our voices are being heard,” said Kylie.

Montez said organizers have been in touch with neighbors.

“We've done extensive community engagement. We have connected via neighborhood association meetings. If we were building a permanent shelter in the community, the community engagement would look different. I think that folks have hoped that we would have a very long community engagement process, but this is different because it's a temporary outdoor shelter.”

This Safe Rest Village is opening the same month the outdoor temporary shelter in Old Town is closing. A handful of those villagers will move into the Multnomah Village Safe Rest Village.

The next safe rest village is scheduled to open in a few months at Menlo Park, at 112nd Avenue and East Burnside.

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