Tuesday, November 15, 2016

HBSS Takes Request to Council

Delana Beaton, Lorrie Walker, Verena Wessel
Three members of the Home Base Shelters of Salem board of directors went before City Council last night during the period for public comment to formally/informally introduce their request to have the City help "identify a parcel of [city-owned] land most appropriate for a...supervised temporary camp" for people experiencing homelessness, and "in navigating the potentially complex zoning/ordinance/licensing issues" that would have to be resolved in order to move forward with such a project.  Their appearance at Council follows their having met with most of the Council privately, as well as others, to share an initial draft proposal, which they said they've been revising as they go.  They fielded questions from Councilors Andersen, Lewis and McCoid, and said they'd be back in 2017 with a "formal" request.  It's not known whether they plan to return during the public comment period or will seek to be placed on the agenda as an action item which would then be voted upon. [12/9 Update: a copy of HBSS's proposal can be found with the October minutes of the South Central Association of Neighbors.]

Dan Bryant giving the tour

Also on Monday, staff and officials from Polk County, among others, visited Opportunity Village in Eugene, and a couple of the Eugene "Rest Stops", on which the HBSS project proposal is based.  Even though all members of the Task Force were invited to come along (transportation provided), only Commissioner Wheeler, Sheriff Garton, and Heidi Mackay participated.

At the first stop, Opportunity Village CEO Dan Bryant told the group about the Village's history and evolution, the role that the Eugene City Council played in the process, and the Village's gradual acceptance into the community.  The group also spoke briefly with the villager on gate-duty and, once inside the gate, one or two  of the other villagers.       

 A Eugene "Rest Stop"
The next visit was to a Rest Stop.  Rest Stop residents sleep in conestoga huts or tents on platforms.  This Rest Stop recently acquired a metal hut and a wood stove to use as a common area.  Previously, residents gathered around a barrel fire in the center of the camp (under the chair in the photo at left).  This blog describes winter conditions at Rest Stops. (Note: Rest Stops run by Community Supported Shelters are called "Safe Spots.")

There's all the information you might want about Square One Villages and the Eugene Rest Stop program at the links, so we're not going to repeat it here.  

On the ride back in Polk County's all-purpose bus, people shared impressions, questions and concerns, including the "potentially complex zoning/ordinance/licensing issues" that would arise if they wanted to do something similar in Polk County or West Salem (though not necessarily on publicly owned land).  Given HBSS is already in the process of putting those issues before City Council, it was generally agreed it made sense for the folks interested in a West Salem project to pursue a partnership with HBSS.  Email addresses have been exchanged and progress will be reported here as it's made known.  For those interested, here are some more photos from the trip:

Entrance to Opportunity Village
Sharon Heuer and Greg Hansen look over OV's community kitchen
Opportunity Village cul de sac
Another Opportunity Village cul de sac
Outside the Rest Stop for Veterans

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