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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

First Portland homeless shelter village set to open next week

By Nicole Hayden The Oregonian

The first of Portland’s six tiny home villages for homeless individuals is set to open next week along Southwest Multnomah Boulevard.

The city announced Thursday during a media tour that it was ready to hand over the keys to the site to All Good Northwest, the local nonprofit tasked with day-to-day operations.

While the future residents of the village have not yet been selected, temporary residents will begin occupying the 30 sleeping pods by the end of this month, according to Bryan Aptekar, a spokesperson for the safe rest villages. Each tiny home will serve as transitional housing for a single person or couple.

Each 8 x 8 foot home has a twin-sized mattress, air-conditioning and heat and a locking door. The community will share a small kitchenette that consists of four microwaves, two refrigerators and a shared pantry space. There are no stoves or ovens. There are three full bathrooms with showers, a few small garden beds and one laundry room with two washers and two dryers.

The site backs up against thick trees that separate the village from the nearby neighborhood. To its front sits a Portland Bureau of Transportation staging site where large construction vehicles Thursday loudly clattered back and forth, kicking up dust. Aptekar said the city bureau project should be wrapping up soon to leave the future village residents with a more peaceful environment.

An additional safe rest village is expected to open by the end of the summer and the remaining four should come by the end of the year – more than a year later than initially planned due to construction and planning delays.

Andy Goebel, executive director of All Good Northwest, said he is excited for the village to open.

All Good Northwest will provide around the clock staffing at the village with peer support specialists, case managers, behavioral health workers and housing navigators on site each day. The overnight shelter staff will have a behavioral health support team on call for any incidents that arise during the later hours. The team will work with each resident to help eventually transition them to long-term housing or address other needs they might have.

Goebel said minor tasks were still left to address, such as doing a final safety inspection and bringing in some amenities for residents, including pillows, blankets and food, which volunteers began dropping off Thursday.

“I am grateful for the donations from Friends of Multnomah Safe Rest Village, which represents the neighbors who want this site to be successful,” Goebel said.

After the Southwest Multnomah Boulevard site was selected, some neighbors expressed their disapproval and said they didn’t want the village in their neighborhood. One upset neighbor reiterated those sentiments Thursday, shouting from the side of the road.

The Friends of Multnomah Safe Rest Village was formed by other local neighbors who did support the project and wanted to help it succeed.

“There was a lot of (not in my backyard feelings) and we wanted to band together to educate people on why we needed this village,” said Sandy Stienecker, one of the volunteers. “We also felt it was important for people who are trying to work hard and live here to know that they are welcomed and we are excited to have them here and we are hopeful for them.”