Jun 27, 2023 - News

Portland unveils safe spot for people living in RVs

Scottie Peterson has been living in this RV, a block away from the soon-to-open RV shelter, for more than six months.

People living in RVs along city streets will soon have the first publicly funded spot — complete with bathrooms, laundry and two meals a day — open exclusively for them.

Why it matters: This is another piece of Portland's Safe Rest Villages program, which offers longer-term shelter and support services with the aim of moving people into permanent housing.

Details: The site is a wide parking lot with spots for up to 55 RVs. It's off Marine Drive in NE Portland, surrounded by open, grassy spaces and next door to Dignity Village, a long-running, self-governed shelter.

  • No drugs or alcohol are permitted, no background checks are necessary to get a spot, and each RV can house up to two adults — no children allowed.

Of note: The site has been ready for people to move in since early November, according to city officials.

  • But contract negotiations with the Salvation Army, which will operate the shelter, took months.

What they're saying: Scottie Peterson, 32, has been living in an RV parked a block away — one of dozens lining NE 33rd — and hadn't heard about the plans but says it sounds good to him.

  • "Just being able to shower and have clean clothes would be great," he told Axios.

The intrigue: A particular challenge for RV safe spots is moving people's vehicles if they aren't drivable, Robert Lloyd, the Salvation Army's Portland area coordinator, told Axios.

  • "And if somebody has to be asked to leave, it's not just a matter of walking them to the edge of the property. Now they have an RV unit that may be on blocks that we have to deal with," Lloyd said.

What's next: Operators hope to open by mid-July. People need referrals from outreach workers for a spot.

  • Multnomah County is planning a different site for people living in their cars, due to open sometime later this year.
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