Portland City Commissioner Dan Ryan’s office on Monday announced a third safe rest village: the former Jerome F. Sears Army Reserve Center at 2730 SW Multnomah Blvd. The city says it will house 60 pod structures.
“The Sears site is used for emergency management—it has served as an emergency shelter before—and it is close to a Safeway, TriMet’s #12 frequent transit bus line, and it serves a part of town without other shelters. It is an ideal location. The Safe Rest Villages team will place up to 60 pods on the Sears site,” Ryan’s office said in a statement.
Back in 2016, under then-Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, the city used the building for six months as a homeless shelter during the winter. It was slated to be used as an emergency management center by the city—which is its current function—but there was an interim period when the building was undergoing renovations and the city used it as an emergency shelter.
“To see a building that we own that has light, plumbing, heat and showers [sitting empty] when we have about 500 women sleeping on the street, to me is unconscionable,” Hales said at the time.
Ryan has said his planned six safe rest villages will contain heated pods for sleeping, communal kitchens, and hygiene, behavioral and case management services. The villages will accept both couples and individuals into the sites, as well as pets. The city will be using a referral system to place people in the safe rest villages. Referrals can come from park rangers, first responders, Portland Street Response members and social service providers.
The Nov. 22 announcement means two of the three proposed villages are west of the Willamette River. Ryan’s office previously announced locations downtown and in deep Southeast Portland. Conspicuously without a safe rest village so far: the neighborhoods of Portland’s inner eastside, where much of the strife between homeowners and houseless people is centered.
“The unprecedented city and county investment in houselessness just adopted will support these villages through our comprehensive approach, and our community engagement team will continue working to build relationships between housed and unhoused neighbors,” Ryan said in a statement Monday. “Thank you to our partners at the county, particularly Commissioner [Sharon] Meieran for her support of a safe rest village in her district. It’s time to say Yes in My Backyard.”