VANCOUVER, Wash — Some people experiencing homelessness in Vancouver will soon have a supportive place to live. The city just announced the location for its first "Safe Stay Community."
The site on Northeast 51st Circle is just off of SR 500 and Northeast 112th Avenue. It is already a homeless camp that has grown over time.
“So that whole strip that we're going to be utilizing is right now one of the largest encampments in town," said Jamie Spinelli, the Homeless Response Coordinator for the city of Vancouver.
Spinelli said the undeveloped city-owned dead end street will become Vancouver’s first sanctioned supportive community for the houseless.
“It's got easy access for us to bring in the shelters, to service the dumpsters and porta-potties. It was also, from the beginning, very important to keep people as close to where they currently are when possible.”
In fact, many of the people living there now are signed up to move into one of the self-contained shelters.
Debbie Maddox said she and her boyfriend are lucky to have a big tent, but they're happy to trade it in for a shelter with a solid roof, two beds, electricity, a small heater and safety features like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
“I can finally get a job, I'll be out of the cold. That's one thing we all worry about, there's been bodies found at homeless camps and we don't want that,” said Maddox.
These shelters, which cost nearly $8,000 each, could be life savers, and so could the 24/7 staffing and support services to help people break the cycle of homelessness.
But first, the old unsanctioned camp must be cleared out by the end of the month, and neighbors will have a chance to weigh in.
“Neighborhood associations anywhere nearby have been contacted, and letters to anyone within 1,200 feet are in the mail, so people should be receiving those any day,” said Spinelli.
Already, a North Image Neighborhood Association officer told KGW that they do have questions they wanted answered by the city about the site location.
Barring any major concerns or complications, 14110 Northeast 51st Circle is where Vancouver's first sanctioned village will be, with plans to open just before Christmas.
Debbie Maddox thinks it will be a great gift to her and others.
“They're gonna be helping with everyday life, like helping us find jobs, helping us get the resources that we need" said Maddox.
Community members near the site have until Dec. 1 to ask questions and raise any concerns, including at two community information session which will be held virtually. Click here for more information.