Bryant Clerkley (KGW)
PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — As part of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s efforts to convert vacant or underutilized properties into massive tent camping sites for the homeless, the city is considering several different sites.
One is a building owned by Volunteers of America Oregon which is in the Montavilla neighborhood. Volunteers of America said on their website they’re currently in deliberations with the city about this opportunity to assist them with the homeless crisis here in Portland. The location would also have services for the homeless.
Sylvia Allred lives in the neighborhood and sees the value of something like this.
“Well I know we sure have a need for good safe housing for a lot of people so I think it’s worth looking into,” Allred said.
Volunteers of America said on its website that it is committed to developing this site as a headquarter and treatment center in the future. Those plans are ongoing and the short-term lease of the site by the city does not alter the organization’s commitment to that effort.
A spokesman for the mayor said this location is not a priority site for a new camp, although the location does demonstrate the challenges they’ll face finding sites.
The Volunteers of America building is near Columbia Christian School. School President Amy Vensel reached out to KGW about the potential camp.
“The overarching concern would be the safety and welfare of children and that’s our utmost concern,” Vensel said.
Vensel said that so far, the city has not contacted the school about the potential plan or to give any information. She said the school has a heart for the homeless crisis and they too want a solution.
“People who have health concerns, drug addictions, sexual offenders, we don’t know the history of these people and there’s no protection from the school against that,” Vensel said.
The city has said these sites will have a lot of security and the city will give $250,000 to each neighborhood and business district to pay for private security.
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