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Portlanders react to Safe Rest Village site selections

The final four of six Safe Rest Village sites have been announced, and some neighbors are reacting with a mix of hope and frustration.

PORTLAND, Ore. — From North Portland to Northeast, and from downtown off Naito Parkway to Southwest Portland, the final four of six Safe Rest Village sites have been revealed. Some Portland residents and site neighbors are reacting with a mix of hope and frustration.

Speaking outside a homeless resource center by the Broadway Bridge, Luke Andrade said he was glad to hear about the Safe Rest Village coming to that location.

“It's so hard to get resources," said Andrade, who is homeless. "So, coming up with this, and there's more availability in this section of town, that's very nice."

Another site is planned near the St. Johns neighborhood, off North Syracuse Street. The city property near Peninsula Crossing is where the Belmont goats currently reside.

It's also long been an unsanctioned homeless camping site, with associated problems.

“We have so much crime happening right now and we don't feel safe in our neighborhoods,” said Deirdre Jennings, whose backyard borders the proposed site. 

Jennings and her family are longtime residents of the area, and she said the homeless situation has gotten really bad in the past few years, with little city response.

"And then when they come to this solution, we still have a lot of questions around it, and I think we've been very patient and respectful," she said, "and to have this decision made without us being a part of it is very frustrating."

RELATED: Commissioner Ryan announces the four remaining Safe Rest Village sites

Her next door neighbor, Mark Smith, expressed the same concerns about what the supportive camp will look like and how it will run — but he also said he's hopeful.

"It could make a really big difference in the neighborhood if there were managed facilities if there were treatments available, if there were some sort of infrastructure that would support people there," he said.

Just north of Portland, Vancouver has been quickly building out its own network of homeless support sites called Safe Stay Communities.

A second site was recently chosen off of Fourth Plain Boulevard, and program leaders are conducting what they called "extensive outreach" to residents in that area.

RELATED: Mayor Wheeler extends camping ban along Portland's high-crash corridors

The first location opened with tiny houses in late December and is already seeing success in terms of providing security and support for its residents. Some have gone into addiction treatment and others are going to school.

"As of this week I think we've got four who have obtained employment," said homeless response coordinator Jamie Spinelli. "Lots of ID's coming in the mail... ID's are a real hot button, a lot of people lose them while living outside.”

Spinelli said representatives from Portland and Multnomah County are scheduled to come to Vancouver next week to tour its supportive community efforts.

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