Lents ‘tiny house’ homeless village to double in size

INCLUDES FULL MEETING VIDEO | Find out what neighbors learned about the expansion of the ‘Reedway Safe Rest Village’, and operators’ plans to increase its size by 100% …

Before this “listening session” get underway in the Lents neighborhood – concerning plans to expand the the Reedway Safe Rest Village — neighbors greet one another, and share their concerns.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

About thirty people – mostly neighbors concerned about the plan to double in size the Reedway Safe Rest Village – gathered in Pilgrim Lutheran Church’s Community room on January 22 at 5:30 p.m.

Officiating the “listening session” were staff from the California-based encampment operator, Urban Alchemy, and the City of Portland’s Streets to Stability Team, which oversees the “safe rest villages”.

This “safe rest village”, shown under construction, is about to double in size, officials say. City of Portland image

The Reedway Safe Rest Village, at 10550 SE Reedway Street, was established in what some Lents residents claim was originally a toxic dump site, just west of the Beggars Tick Natural Area. Over the objections of neighbors, the camp was opened to provide housing for people in July, 2023.

This “listening session” was centered on plans to expand this site’s capacity from 60 to 120 units.

Neighbors talk amongst themselves, as the meeting is about to get underway.

“I’m happy to facilitate this meeting and I thank people for coming in the rain,” began the session moderator from the City of Portland Office of Equity and Human Rights – Equity Strategies and Initiatives Senior Policy Advisor Judith Mowry – who led the panel in giving self-introductions.

She’s been in her role as the City of Portland Humanitarian Operations Director for about three and a half months, says Brandy Westerman.

Taking comments from the audience, and speaking about efforts to ameliorate homelessness is City of Portland Policy & Outreach Advisor Hendrik Broekelschen from the Office of Mayor Ted Wheeler.

“We’re here, primarily, to listen,” assured City of Portland Policy & Outreach Advisor Hendrik Broekelschen from the Office of Mayor Ted Wheeler. “As we look abound Portland, I think you can agree that things are not going all that well, when it comes to the number of people who are houseless.

“There’s a twofold challenge: We don’t want to see somebody in a situation that is not ideal, living out on the streets – not having a source of food, shelter and support services that could be nearby.

Broekelschen continued, “Our goal is to do something about it. We are here and you are here because we’re on the same page – that we want to do something about it.”

Actual discussion about the Reedway Safe Rest Village and its expansion was delayed, however, because the representative from Urban Alchemy was not yet present.

Hendrik Broekelschen listens to neighbors’ concerns.

Neighbors expressed concerns about untoward behavior around the “village” – both by alleged residents, and by Urban Alchemy employees.

A neighbor spoke up, “This is unacceptable; we just want to be treated with respect, the same way of every other neighborhood – that’s all were asking.”

Joining the meeting late is Urban Alchemy Director of Operations Jeffers Dickey.

39 minutes after the session started, Urban Alchemy Director of Operations Jeffers Dickey came into the room and joined the meeting. He introduced himself: “We came up from California to manage homeless camps throughout the City of Portland. I don’t want you to feel like you are a hostage in your neighborhood with bad behavior going on.

“Our staff that can come out and address issues in the streets,” Dickey said. “We could also address issues with our residents, if we know what those issues are.”

Neighbors responsible for behavior monitoring
At others of their managed sites, Dickey said he’s given out his phone number and email address. “Residents email me photographs or videos of mal-behavior going on around the camps. If those folks are indeed residents of our village – we will address the issues, with them..

“Typically, what we find is that every single neighborhood surrounding these ‘Safe Rest Villages’ has improved considerably,” Dickey commented.

Watch the entire meeting in this video, courtesy of the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association:

Expansion is a ‘go’
While officials listened to the concerns of neighbors, it apparently didn’t dissuade them from doubling the size of the Reedway Safe Rest Village – as they’d planned – according to their website:

Reedway Expansion Update No. 3 (February 2024)
We have confirmed the Reedway Safe Rest Village will double its capacity. It will now be a shelter with 120 units.

Hopefully, Lents neighbors near the encampment will obtain adequate resolutions to any situations that arise from this development.

© 2024 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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