Portland Will Allow Overnight RV Camping and Tiny Homes on Private Property

The decision by City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly will create more options for homeless people seeking shelter and for people otherwise priced out of Portland.

(Daniel Stindt)

In a sweeping change to Portland housing policy, City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly announced Sunday that the city will allow overnight RV camping and tiny homes on wheels, as long as they're parked on private property.

Eudaly oversees the Bureau of Development Services, which enforces code compliance. She announced plans to direct the bureau to suspend enforcement of the relevant codes against sleeping in a vehicle while the city develops a more permanent policy.

(Eudaly can suspend enforcement unilaterally but changing city code will require a vote of the council.)

This shift is aimed at addressing the city's shortage of housing affordable to low-income residents and the ongoing difficulty in finding shelter for people on the city streets.

"Housing is a basic need and a human right," says Eudaly. "We have failed to keep up with demand for decades….As commissioner of the Bureau of Development Services, who enforces these codes, I am happy to announce with the support of the mayor we will be suspending enforcement of tiny homes and RVs parked on private property effective immediately."

Eudaly made the announcement Sunday afternoon at an event called "Declaration of Sanctuary," organized by the Leaven Community Center, a religious social-justice organization, in Northeast Portland. The group pushed Eudaly's office to make the change. (At the same event, the Leaven Community, along with Salt & Light Lutheran Church, declared itself a physical sanctuary against immigration enforcement.)

At least as far back as four years ago, advocates pushed for City Hall to loosen city code to allow similar changes.

The city has previously allowed camping in nonprofit and church parking lots.

But Eudaly's proposed policy will allow people up to park three tiny houses or RVs in parking lots of businesses, religious institutions and government buildings, according to the draft proposal, as well as one vehicle in the parking spot of private residences.

Her proposed policy is modeled on a city of Eugene ordinance which has been used to address homelessness. But unlike in Eugene, Portland's policy won't allow tent camping.

The temporary suspension of enforcement will not affect the ongoing enforcement effort against RVs parked in city streets and rights of way.

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