Oct 12, 2023 - News

Report: Portland's Safe Rest Villages' helped hundreds

A photo of a tiny home with a garden in the front.

A tiny home at the Peninsula Crossing Safe Rest Village site. Photo courtesy of The City of Portland.

Within one year, five of Portland's Safe Rest Villages — the tiny home program for those experiencing homelessness — served 345 people, according to the city's first annual report published this week.

Why it matters: City officials are pointing to the early success of Safe Rest Villages — where residents have their own 8-by-8-foot home and can access on-site case managers 24/7 — as a step forward in how Portland wrestles with rising homelessness.

Driving the news: The report notes that of the 143 residents who exited the program, nearly half moved into temporary or permanent housing.

  • However, 40% of those 143 have returned to homelessness or are unaccounted for.
  • The total cost of the program in the last fiscal year was nearly $20 million.

Of note: The report, which covers the time period between July 2022 to last June, does not include statistics from the two Safe Rest Villages that opened this past summer — Reedway and Sunderland.

What they're saying: "Village participants are going from the isolation and dangers of life on the street to connection with community as they build a much better life," Commissioner Dan Ryan, who oversees the program, said in a written statement.

  • 33% of the 345 residents served have experienced chronic homelessness, meaning they've been houseless for over one year and struggle with a disabling condition, like substance abuse or mental illness.

Flashback: After announcing the tiny home villages to high demand in 2021, the rollout has been slow, with the first one opening in June 2022. Ryan previously said six villages would be up and running by the end of 2021.

Context: Safe Rest Villages are small, with a maximum of 30 to 60 sleeping units, and residents have limits on how long they can stay (between six months and two years).

  • Each tiny home is equipped with a twin bed, sheets and towels, heating and air conditioning, as well as a locking door. Residents share a communal kitchen, bathrooms and laundry.
  • Portland partners with groups including The Salvation Army, All Good Northwest and Urban Alchemy, where case workers assist with document retrieval and day-to-day management of each site.

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