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Vancouver seeks input on potential Safe Stay Community downtown site

The city has begun a two-week public comment period for a potential site on West 11th Street.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Vancouver is proposing a potential site for the city’s third Safe Stay Community to help people experiencing homelessness. They are asking for input from residents and business owners within 1,200 feet of the site at 415 West 11th Street.

The potential site is a downtown city block that now serves as a parking lot. The owner of the lot wants to donate the space, which would take up about half the lot.

KGW first reported the idea of the sight when it first came out in mid-September and found some people in the area with concerns about the location. One of them was Sallie Reavey, who with her husband owns the Briar Rose Inn, a bed and breakfast in a historic home adjacent to the lot.

Reavy remains unconvinced the location is a good site and hopes the city council ends up voting it down.

RELATED: Vancouver's first Safe Stay Community after 6 months: What's worked, what hasn't

“When they vote I want them to close their eyes and think about living in their cozy little home in Vancouver and then imagine an empty lot next door to it and then imagine the city putting 20 homeless houses in there and having 20 people live next door to them, that could be drug addict, that could be crazy, and then vote,” said Reavey.

Like the other two in operation in Vancouver, the Safe Stay Community downtown would include 20 tiny homes that would serve 20 to 40 people at a time. It would be fenced and managed 24/7 by nonprofit organizations contracted by the city with services to help people get better and out of homelessness.

There would also be a 1,000-foot buffer zone around the site, where homeless camping is prohibited. City data suggests this is working at the other sites.

RELATED: Safe Rest Villages are all on track to be open by the end of the year, Ryan says

Vancouver’s homeless response coordinator Jamie Spinelli also joined KGW’s conversation with Reavey.

“We’ve got lots of neighbors from the other locations that felt just like you do right now and now they love the sites (and are) very supportive, because the crime calls are down, people are getting help, getting employed and getting housed,” said Spinelli.

Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle also arrived and joined the conversation, saying neighbors' concerns will be taken into account before city council votes on the site. And if it approves the site, those concerns will still be addressed.

“And so that’s why Jamie and her team are working so hard to figure out what is appropriate and if it is- how do we mitigate those impacts,” said Mayor McEnerny-Ogle.

In a press release about the proposed potential site issued Tuesday afternoon, the city spelled out opportunities for the community within 1200 feet of the site input and the potential timeline for the opening of the site, if approved.

That information follows:

The City is committed to informing and involving neighbors and surrounding businesses in the Safe Stay Community planning process. Community members are invited to visit www.beheardvancouver.org/ssc3 to share their thoughts and feedback about the proposed site.

The city also invites community members to attend one of two upcoming community information sessions, one online and one in-person. These sessions will include a chance to ask questions, learn more about the proposed Safe Stay location and meet the service provider, Outsiders Inn. Session options include:

Attend in Person – Saturday, Oct. 15 from 9:30 to 11 a.m., City Hall (415 W. 6th St.). Please RSVP to Kerry.Peck@cityofvancouver.us

Attend Online – Wednesday, Oct. 19 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Participation in the virtual session can be done using a computer, smart device or phone. It’s not necessary to attend both sessions. To register, please visit www.cityofvancouver.us/cis

The city’s goal is to collect as much information as possible to help learn about any potential impacts of locating its next Safe Stay Community at the proposed site. The deadline for submitting comments about the proposed Safe Stay Community site at West 11th St is Friday, Oct. 28.

Depending on the outcome of public input and engagement sessions, and pending review by City Council, the city would open this proposed Safe Stay Community in December 2022. 

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